Sunday, July 31, 2011

north minneapolis tornado.

You may remember that on Sunday, May 22nd a tornado ripped through north Minneapolis. Amazingly it entered the neighborhood near the southwest corner and made its way diagonally across the entire northside exiting at the northeast corner.

On Sunday Tyler and I were on our way home to Minneapolis from Iowa - Olive's first overnight trip away from home. That day we were dodging storms on our drive and even stopped once to let a storm system pass that was dropping tornadoes.

While driving I received a text message from our friend Brooke who lives a few blocks away. She said something about a tornado and she was going in the basement. I told Tyler and he laughed it off, after all, he's from Iowa and he never goes in the basement. Shortly after that text message I received a voicemail from our neighbor stating that a tornado went down our street, they had to go into the basement, and she wasn't sure what it looked like outside yet. Immediately I tried to call Brooke and our neighbors but it was difficult to get through because cell towers were damaged. I finally got ahold of Brooke just as she was emerging from her basement. She told me that she saw trees down outside and roofs messed up. I was unable to reach my neighbor and was getting worried! Brooke did her best to walk to our house, only a couple of blocks away, but said there were too many trees and power lines down. Eventually I got ahold of Connie, another neighbor from down the block, who said she could see our house but wasn't sure about our neighbor's yet. Still on our drive home I was sending messages to Tyler's family and calling my family to keep an eye on the news.

Eventually I was able to speak with our neighbor who also confirmed that our house was okay. She told us how to get into our neighborhood as many trees and power lines were down and many streets were blocked so it would be difficult to get through. Unfortunately on our way into town we didn't take that advice - we wanted to drive through and see how everything looked. We got a couple of blocks from our house but couldn't get any closer going west so we were routed south quite far zig zagging on various streets. Ironically we ran into a former coworker of Tyler's who was riding his bike checking out the damage. We stopped to chat and then continued on our way trying to get home.

We finally made it home and found Brooke & Scott waiting at our house. We had debris in our yard and things were moving around but we didn't see damage. We unloaded our rental car, peeked out front at the numerous trees in our street, and decided to go out for dinner as everyone's power was out and likely to be out for many days.

We went into Robbinsdale for dinner where we watched the sky form into storms once again and even spotted a funnel cloud. Luckily it quickly disappeared the storms passed Minneapolis.

The next day Tyler ventured to work only to return about an hour later unable to find a functioning bus stop. Our neighbors, who were headed out to a store, drove him to work. I ventured out into our neighborhood, with Olive in a ring sling, to take photos.

Click here for a slideshow of photos of the tornado destruction. The first few photos were taken on May 22nd while we were trying to reach our house. The majority of the photos were taken on my walk with Olive on May 23rd. We walked 3 blocks east, 1 block north, and 1 block south - so everything you see was quite close to our house. Needless to say, we were very lucky. At the end are photos of crews clearing trees on our street. It has taken me quite a while to get around to this post - I decided to not edit any of these photos as I was afraid it would never get done..

Today much of the scenery looks the same with the exception of the downed trees in the roadways. Many houses continue to have blue tarps covering their roofs. Many windows and doors are covered by plywood. Many trees that went down on private property are still there. Some local businesses have yet to rebuild. But a number of people were able to get to work immediately - there are homes with new roofs, windows, and siding all around. The sidewalks are still ripped up - the city is waiting for FEMA money, from what I understand. Some homeowners are having a difficult time with their insurance companies. Others cannot afford their deductibles. Many people are having a difficult time receiving aid to fix the damage. I hope that this tornado will not have permanently damaged the northside. Our neighborhood has a host of problems to deal with, as all neighborhoods do, and it's unfortunate that a tornado struck us. There are many people here that have the means to rebuild but there are many that do not. There are also numerous slumlords have not made an ounce of progress and I'm afraid they never will. But it's only been a couple of months. There has been a wonderful response from the community with volunteers attacking the trash and debris immediately. Just yesterday the northside held its annual art crawl. The northside won't be stopped by this tornado! Hopefully it brought more attention to our neighborhood so others could see what needs to be done here but also to see the good that has been going on. If you live in the Twin Cities and don't venture into the northside I highly suggest you give it a try. Stop by Avenue Eatery, Lowry Cafe, Victory 44, and more! And come say hi to me! :)












Monday, July 25, 2011

a wedding & a photo booth!

Tyler, Olive, and I got dressed up for a wedding. We don't dress up much these days. Or really "go out" much. So I was excited.

I think it's been nearly a year since I've worn ANY makeup. I put on a lil powder, blush, and lipstick for the wedding.

I think it's been around a year and half or more since I've worn heels. wow.

In a couple of months we should have many more and much better photos. Forgive the quality of photo booth on my laptop. My legs look like a completely different color than my arms.  That's not the case.  Soon enough we'll have iphones and the very very very first thing I'm doing is getting instagram. Seriously.


My friend Emily married a boy named Zach Saturday night in Minneapolis. The wedding was lovely. There were Chipotle burritos for dinner and cupcakes from Cupcake for dessert. Yum! And here was a photo booth! Here are some photos from the night:

Family! :)

The bride, Emily, Amber, and me!
The "theme" for each photo is "Smile!", "Emma smells", and "There's something in your hair".

Amber & Me. Being cool. Except in the first one.. my mask is a little off. Whoops!  That's what happens when I don't wear my glasses.

Congratulations Emily & Zach!!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

last weekend's wedding, photography preview!

I just can't help myself! Here are some photos from last Saturday's wedding. It was very hot and humid.. almost unbearable.. but everyone kept their happy faces on! :) These photos are straight out of the camera.. unedited. Right now I'm just narrowing down the 808 photos. I'll post edited copies in a week or so.

new fence project, part 3.

Sorry for the delay in posting more about our fence. I guess it doesn't really matter much as the final post is unable to be written as the fence isn't finished! Here in Minnesota we've had some eventful weather as of late. There has been quite a bit of rain and some pretty intense heat which have both hindered us from working on the fence, unfortunately.

Speaking of the weather.. I heard on the news this morning that tomorrow's heat index could hit 120 degrees! Isn't that absurd?! Maybe I should take this moment to inform everyone that it is not, in fact, always cold in Minnesota. I'd say we have some pretty extreme extremes here. In the winter it can get quite chilly (but not much colder than Chicago!!) and we get a decent amount of snow (which I don't mind). It can be beautiful here in the summertime though we experience some nasty humidity from time to time (for example.. right now). Spring and fall typically seem to be rather short. But no matter what the weather is doing outside I've noticed that Minnesotans are almost always complaining about it. Hmm.

Like last year, we've been sticking it out without air conditioning. But unfortunately we realized that this was making it increasingly difficult for Olive to fall asleep and she was waking up earlier from naps and more often during the night. This morning, while I snuggled in bed with Olive, Tyler was wonderful and brought the big old air conditioner up from the basement and put it into a window. We've had it on today and it's cooling off Olive's room quite well. I suspect we'll only need to use it for a couple more days.

Back to the fence!

After the demolition that I wrote about in my previous fence post we took a lunch break. We had some yummy turkey bologna sandwiches on homemade bread topped with also homemade avocado and dill dressing. I believe we also had some leftover local salad. Yum! While the big kids enjoyed our sammies the little babe enjoyed some avocado. :)

Tyler's brother's wife, Joy, was nice enough to take a few photos of Olive and I while we were working on the fence. I am very grateful because I'm often behind the camera and have very few photos of me and Olive (save for photobooth.. which really doesn't count).

After lunch Joe and I ran to North End hardware, our neighborhood hardware store, to pick up the post hole auger. It can be rented for 2 hours, 4 hours, or one day. We were hoping to get it back in the 2 hour time frame but I think we were all skeptical. Unfortunately we didn't have a 4 hour option as the store closed at 5 and we picked it up around 2. I didn't get any photos of the guys digging the holes because the process was a bit complicated. We used hemp and yarn to mark where the hole should be. We ran into roots in many of the front holes near the big tree. Joy and I used bowls and measuring cups to dig out holes that had rocks in the bottom or roots in the way. After rushing to return the auger with about two minutes to spare we discovered that some of our holes were off. This resulted in lots of hand digging to correct our mistakes. And in the process we found more chunks of concrete.

We were finally able to set a few posts before nightfall!

Next up I'll share photos of more posts and fence panels in place! :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

olive babbles.

Here's a short video of Olive talking to herself. We also did this with an iPad when we were at the AT&T store earlier this week. Right now, as the video is playing, she's trying to talk to herself from across the room. Lately she has been talking to herself in the mirror a lot and when we're using a small mirror she tries to grab it and touch herself and lick herself. I set up a play date with my friend Amber and her son next week because I was feeling pretty bad about her failed attempts at playing with herself... she just hits the mirror... :(


Some nights I give Olive a large piece of food to occupy herself with while we're eating dinner. Last night started out with a carrot but she kept dropping it and couldn't find it and would get frustrated. I grabbed a huge, and really bendy, piece of celery. Eventually she started yelling at it. She starts to talk loudly, constantly, and occasionally yell like that when she's tired. It's such a distinct way to communicate that she's tired.. and here's a video!


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

baby llama mama drama.

By "baby llama mama" I mean mobile phone.

Last night we spent a couple of hours at the AT&T store. Tyler's brother and his wife set up our family plan in Iowa on Monday and we went in yesterday to port Tyler's number and, regrettably, get a new phone number for me. We had hoped to use our T-Mobile phones with AT&T SIM cards until the next iPhone comes out in the fall. In the fall we would then buy the iPhone 4 for cheaper and enter into a two year contract. Yes, we will finally have real grown up phones. Finally. After years of talking about the iPhone. Ohmygoodness.

But first. Our plan to use our T-Mobile phones failed as they were locked. Tyler called T-Mobile and unlocking them would take a day or so. So we drove to Target to buy cheap "go" phones. They didn't have the cheapest one so we drove to Best Buy where Tyler purchased two $10 phones. Yes, you can buy a mobile phone for $10.

So I traded this:

(That big white circle is supposed to be black. The button fell off over a year ago.It's been dropped into a toilet, and flushed.
The screen is cracked. It doesn't ring anymore... only vibrates. Pretty sweet.)

For this:

(There isn't even a screen on the outside to see who is calling. There is no camera. It's as basic as basic can be.
The transition from this phone to an iPhone will be nothing short of amazing. AHmazing. A MA ZING.)

But then. I tried to reply to a text message from an old friend, Elizabeth M, and it failed. I thought, oh, maybe it's a problem with her phone. Later I tried to send a text message to Tyler, which also failed, despite having turned the little phone off and then on again. I called Tyler but was connected to AT&T, which seemed odd.

I was told that my phone was not properly scanned when Tyler purchased it at Best Buy so it appeared to be stolen. Thus my phone number was suspended. The representative unsuspended it but cannot guarantee how long that will last. We have to fax a copy of the receipt and our plan information to AT&T as soon as possible.

Dramatic, no? Okay maybe not overly dramatic but I don't see too much drama these days. Which is not a bad thing.

Oh, I spoke with my dad this morning, who I believe is equally as saddened by the passing of my number, and he pointed out that we could have ported my number back to his Verizon plan (where it came from). And I could have had an iPhone. Good point dad. Whoops Emma.

awkward dog.

Our lovely pup, Honey, is a closer talker.

She has limited social skills.

You should see her with dogs that don't want to play. She just doesn't get it.

But she's soft, so it's okay

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ups & downs, stream of consciousness.

It's been a while since I've done an Ups & Downs. Whoops.

(I seem to be uttering "whoops" a little too frequently lately)

This Ups & Downs will be Stream of Consciousness style. Stream of Consciousness posts seem to happen on Sundays, right? Well, I don't seem to do things correctly these days sooooooohwell. I typed seem three times already. I need a thesaurus.

Down: This blog. I enjoy having this blog but I'm not good at posting regularly or consistently or accurately. I don't like to proof read. I start a theme and let the ball drop a few weeks later. Whoops.

Up: We sold the Taurus last night. For less than we were asking but $600 is better than nothing. We took out a small loan from my dad to cover the Golf so this will help.

Down: We sold the Taurus. I never enjoyed it much but it had been my car since high school. Honestly I would probably be happy about getting it off our hands, especially getting some money for it, if it weren't for the following Down...

Down: I'm getting a new cell phone number. We're getting a family plan with Tyler's brother, Joe, and his wife, Joy, on AT&T so we can FINALLY have grown up phones - iPhones! However, Chicago is on a different market than Iowa City & Minneapolis so my 630 area code has to go. That was my first phone number. From high school.

Double Down: Loosing my car and phone number over the course of two days.

Up: I'm going to have a funeral for my phone number. That should help.

Up: We really like our VW Golf. So do Olive & Honey.

Up: Our fence is looking great and really improves the overall look of our home. This is an extra Up as we're hoping to sell our house in the not too distant future.

Down: Our fence isn't done. But it's close. But it's not done.

Down: Back to the phone. I have to get a 612 area code, or maybe 651, or 952. I don't even like here. I don't want an area code from here. I like 630 more than 612 and 630 isn't even than cool. 312..? 212? hum.

Up: We're admitting that we don't like it here.

Up: Even with an incomplete fence we can let Honey roam free in the backyard. What a great pup! Last week I actually witnessed her chase a squirrel to the end of the yard and then promptly STOP before setting paw on the driveway. What? I'm incredibly impressed. I assumed the one thing that would be sure to lure Honey away from the safety of our yard would be a squirrel. Good pup! :)

Up: Olive. She's so cute. Yesterday she drank from Tyler's water glass. She holds it correctly and slurps. It's adorable. Though she gets soaked in the process of drinking. And later peed all over me.

Down: I got peed on three times yesterday.

Down: The internet and not getting things done. I have so many obvious things to do. Vacuum, wash dishes, paint walls, pull weeds, cut my nails, etc. And so many ideas getting locked inside my mind. Make Olive curtains, make Olive clothes, experiment with new bread recipes, etc. But I'm tired. And I'm overwhelmed. The larger my "to do" list becomes the less likely I am to do any of it. Especially when things on the list involve decluttering our house. I love to declutter, but the more cluttered everything becomes the more cluttered my mind becomes and the more stuck behind the piles of clutter I become. So when Olive naps I sigh and grab my mental to do list tightly in my fist.. and then walk past the computer.. and get lost.. because sitting feels so good. At least the television isn't an issue. That feels even more mindless!

Down: We have too much stuff. Unfortunately a lot of that stuff came from family - family pictures, paintings, furniture. So I can't get rid of it, can I? Should I feel so tied to material things? I don't want to but I feel an obligation.

Up: I love our CSA. And making bread. And eating good food.

Do I have more Downs than Ups?

Up: I have more reviews of products from Swanson coming up. Woohoo!

Up: I like Tyler.

I'm not going to proof read this. I don't like proof reading.

What are your Ups & Downs so far this week? Did you actually read all of this?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

new fence project, part 2.

This morning I went golfing with Brooke. It was my first time. I really liked it and am eager to go again! Though I woke up with some major shoulder pain, most likely do to a sleeping mishap. I also didn't sleep well - stayed up late, couldn't fall asleep, it was hot, someone was shooting off fireworks from 1:45- 2:30, and baby wanted to eat a million times. Next time I go golfing I would love to be well rested and pain free. And maybe the day can be a little cooler than today. And cloudy. That is my perfect golfing day.

We just made cookies. :) And I just had some coffee because I didn't have any this morning and it was, for some reason, bothering me.

On to the fence...

We knew the fence was in terrible shape. I was half expecting us to take down one panel and have the rest fall down. In spots it was actually close to happening - one of us had to hold up the next section as the previous section was removed. We found fence posts sitting on top of concrete footings, sitting next to concrete footings, and some without concrete footings. We found concrete and bricks in strange places. We found a lot of what you shouldn't find in a functional fence. The demolition didn't take long but there were a few holes with oddly shaped concrete chunks that took a while to remove. Joy was great at digging them out - in a few spots we had to wedge our shovels into the sides of the concrete and push down like crazy until the concrete lifted up. Did I mention it was very hot outside? And we don't have air conditioning?

Here are some photos of our fence demolition:

We had tons of weeds growing next to the fence. As the panels were removed I tackled the weeds. I neglected them this year since I knew we were getting a new fence.

We now have a pile of old fence in our backyard. I'm hoping to get a chance to build planters and outdoor furniture like benches and tables with some of the weathered wood. Hopefully.

Up next: Olive eating some avocado, Olive & me, and fence building prep.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

new fence project, part 1.

Over the fourth of July weekend Tyler's brother, Joe, came up to visit along with his wife, Joy, and their dog, Mater. We were hoping to do some fence demolition, building, and fun having. We did have fun but the fence ended up taking up a lot more time than I was anticipating. Unfortunately it wasn't even done by the time they left! We're extremely grateful for their help - we wouldn't have been able to get so much done ourselves!

Our fence was pretty.. interesting. There were three generations to the wood fence.

The south border between our yard and our neighbor's yard was the oldest. It was very weathered and very wobbly. It would occasionally lean on our neighbor's house and was propped up on both sides by metal fence posts, wood steaks, and rope. The fence would bend and sway in the wind and we have absolutely no clue how it withstood the tornado in May. Most of the posts weren't even in the ground, there were stones and bricks along the bottom, and the panels were of varying lengths and were slanted, too.

The west edge of the fence was probably a few years old. It had two large and impractical gates. In one section it had three posts in one spot. Odd.

The newest section of the fence was put up when the previous owners of our house thought they were doing a good job. I should write a post someday about every stupid little thing these "flippers" did that ended up being a bigger pain than a help. I didn't fall for a single thing they did when we looked at the house.. we just liked the house. They bought a few new fence panels and stuck them up at the front of the house in an attempt to improve the curb appeal, I assume. Then they painted it red - but they only painted the outside red and left drips of red paint on the inside. I'm also pretty sure that they spilled red paint on the front steps of the house which are now painted red. Real smooth.

Here are a few photos of the old fence:

I'll share some demolition photos next! :)