Category Archives: Minnesota

Oberstar Tweets

Several weeks ago, after reading a legislative update from Minnesota Congressman Jim Oberstar, I emailed him and suggested that he consider tweeting some of his updates on Twitter. Today I received the following reply:

Ms. Jody Scott-Olson

Royalton, Minnesota 56373-0184

Dear Ms. Scott-Olson:

Knowing of your interest in a Twitter account for me where you can be updated on current legislation and other relevant issues, I am pleased to report that you can now follow me on Twitter at

With best wishes.


James L. Oberstar, M.C.


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Filed under Government, Little Falls, Minnesota, Politics

The Last Day of School

Yesterday was Alexa’s last day of school. It was a bittersweet day that Alexa both looked forward to and dreaded.

When Alexa’s Dad died 2 years ago she wrote and read a tribute at his funeral, a good-bye letter if you will. In her letter she said that she feared the big days ahead, like graduation and someday getting married. She said that the milestones in her life would be marked by his absence.

Alexa made it clear to me that she would not walk in a graduation ceremony afraid she’d be reduced to tears and throughout her last year of high school I wondered if she’d graduate at all. She struggled with chronic illness related immune deficiency and she grieved over lost health and a lost father. Her grades fell.

Her greif counselor told me not to push her and sometimes I didn’t, and sometimes I did. I knew if Alexa didn’t graduate that she was still an able, capable girl, even more important Alexa knows she’s an able capable girl. But I was afraid if she gave up on graduation that it would give her more of a reason to give up on life. Alexa and I discussed our terms, she agreed to follow through with earning the credit needed to graduate and only said, “just stay with me,” and so I did.

Finishing class yesterday reminded her that she couldn’t call her Dad to say, ” I did it Dad,” but she imagined what he might  have said and how proud of her he would have been.

After her online classes ended at noon we loaded into the car and left for the suburbs of Minneapolis. Nick had a new car to pick up and Alexa and I made plans to visit Cookie Strange at Great Clips in Champlin.

Cookie is one of my closest friends, daughter. I’ve known Cookie ever since she was born and her Mother named her Emily…which she later changed to Cookie. Cookie works magic on hair and I will follow her to the end of the earth because she makes my hair fabulous.

The last time I got my haircut I had it done locally, it is viewable in all of my online photos. The cut was alright but it wasn’t the kind of cut that you could blow dry and go and it didn’t fare well on windy days in the garden. I need hair that you can seriously mess up and I prefer an modern edge because age appropriate just sucks,  as always Cookie delivered.

When Alexa and I finished getting our hair cut we went to Totally Tan. As Alexa’s health has worsened her skin color has become very light but her hair is dark. During the summer she frequently hides in jeans feeling like her legs glow white. She also burns easily so I agreed to take her to a place that offers a full body spray tan.

After I paid for Alexa’s tan, Alexa looked at me and said…”Aren’t you going to go?” I hesitated, I have  to attend a birthday party and a wedding today…but thought I could use some color. After asking a pile of questions I decided to try it. The experience was absolutely dreadful, it so cold it almost took my breath away and I forgot to use the shower cap so I stepped out once again feeling like Bridget Jones.

On the drive home Alexa and I talked about her Dad, upcoming graduation parties, what to wear to the wedding and we started to turn a warm brown …maybe not so bad. By this morning I staggered to the kitchen for coffee on gingerbread colored legs and thought; definitely not bad.

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Filed under Books, Cooking, Education, Fiction Writing, General, health, Life, Minnesota, Minnesota Fiction, Politics

And That Ends the Entomology Lesson…

About a year ago my son, Ben called from his apartment in a Minneapolis suburb, he had just returned from a week of camping at an outdoor concert when he noticed a massive beetle about the length of his hand on his bag. He thought it was dead so he poked it. The beetle began vibrating, opened its massive wings and took a flying leap to his wall.

Ben was quite on the phone for a minute then said…”yeah,” in a low quiet voice, pausing again, “…all I could do was scream.” He paused, “I gave the guy down the hall beer to kill it”

Yesterday, my oldest son Nick called me over to an area of the driveway where a similarly large beetle had landed on the dogs rear end before falling to the ground. It reminded so much of the beetle Ben described that I decided to take a picture and see if it was the same bug and maybe even find out what kind of beetle it was.

As I snapped the camera the beetle vibrated, opened its wings and took a flying leap at me.  Like my son,  I screamed, so loud that all noise from activity in the neighborhood went silent including the birds and the only audible sound was Nick mumbling “…and that ends the entomology lesson.”

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Filed under Fiction Writing, Home & Garden, Humor, Life, Minnesota, Science, United States

Minnesota Spring

Alexa has been sick. As she makes her slow recovery I’ve taken her on car rides to no where in particular, just to get her out of the house for a short time. I love our drives, I love the rural landscape all around me. I especially love this time of year because after so many months of seeing nothing but blankets of white, the gold and green patchwork farmland that spills to meet the cerulean blue sky takes my breath away.

As I was driving I wanted to describe the view to someone I’ve been exchanging letters with and this is what I wrote:  To Mark in AZ.

Round, tractor tire-sized bales of flaxen hay dot the landscape as periwinkle sheets of rain daub the western horizon.

On swizzle stick legs baby calves lean into the misty April breeze.

One calf is the color of oatmeal and I name him Norman.

He stands still as a Bonnie Mohr painting.

His eyes are black like buttons floating on soft peaks of whipped cream.

With his jaw high he faces spring as the wind smooths his downy fur from his eyes.

A nearby tractor awakens the earth as the Midwest wind twirls her,  sleepy and unexpectant.

Dusty plumes roll and scatter as her dark rich scent whispers her fertility to the wind.

Naked trees watch shivering impotently.

A gust blows and Norman’s mother calls.

On new legs Norman runs.

Blue sky, red barn and the gentle color of Norman; my American landscape.

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Filed under Life, Minnesota, Writing

Water Levels Rise

Photos of the Platte River were taken on March 24, 2009. The last 2 pictures were taken feet from my yard. The  submerged areas photographed were, in previous years, a dry river bed. I apologize for the poor quality, its was raining hard yesterday afternoon and traffic on the roads where these photos were taken from was busy.

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Filed under Life, Minnesota, Uncategorized

Flood Update

By this morning the Platte River had risen considerably and the water has continued to seep into the basement at a rate of about 5 gallons every half hour. It was a very long night last night, and obviously,  I’m almost too  exhausted to type.

If the river continues to rise at the current rate, I estimate that it will breach the river bank in 2 days..if I’m lucky. The ice and snow has not yet melted completely and the rain continues to fall at an alarming rate. For the first time in a long time,  I’m afraid.

I called the city this afternoon and asked the receptionist if the they had discussed an emergency plan for Elm Street, since it appears certain that the street will soon flood. The woman at the city said that no one had discussed the river yet but that they should, she said she’d contact public works right away.

If I felt  afraid earlier, her reply terrified me.  The river is not only moving faster than I’ve ever seen  but its a few feet from breaching the river bank and the city hasn’t even thought about it? It certainly doesn’t instill confidence. Worse yet, we have maybe 2 days before the river spills onto the street, so its too late to think about sand bagging. It is also important to note that the lowest point in the river bank is directly across from the side of the house. Also the street is higher than my neighborhood so the water will without question flow towards my house and my neighborhood.

Within a few hours I saw a public works truck drive up Elm Street…then another, then a squad car, then a city truck, hours after that the DNR arrived.  I watched as they all stood talking in the rain for a very long time, no doubt discussing how monumentally screwed we all are. After that Elm Street went from being a city street that saw about 2 cars a day, to being a parade route.

Do you ever feel like you have to think for everyone?

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Filed under Life, Minnesota, Uncategorized

Minnesota Floods

A lot of things are making my city flood, the ...
Image via Wikipedia

I was listening to the local news today and they were talking about the flooding in the Red River Valley area.  I looked out the window watching the rain fall and considered volunteering to assist in their sand bagging effort.  As I contemplated my schedule and watched the rain from my home office I noticed that I could see the the river from where I was sitting.

I live on the corner of 1st and Elm Street. Elm Street runs along side of my house and is more the size of an alley than an actual road, I assume this is partially because there are no more than 2 houses actually on Elm Street.  It is this narrow road that separates my yard from the banks of the Platte River. I assume the reason the house is so close to the river bank is because the structure is about 107 years old. It’s been completely renovated from the floor up as well as added on to. Today, there are more rules and local ordinances regarding set backs from rivers and lakes, rules that didn’t exist when this house was originally built. Being able to see river water from the main floor of my house inspired one response from me.  I turned on my heels and headed for the basement where I found standing water at the base of the stairs.


The only upshot is that the basement flooring is ceramic tile because the house is so close to the river. Whoever put in the large squares of ceramic tile was also smart enough to put in a floor drain. Unfortunately, the drain was placed inexplicably on an incline which  renders it almost useless unless the water level gets significantly higher.

For the past 7 years I’ve operated an online bookstore called Madeline West. The basement level of my house is where my library is housed. The books listed for sales on my website weren’t effected because the water had not eeked into that section of the basement. What was damaged was the boxes of unappraised books nearest to the basement door.

Instead of volunteering to sand bag the Red River Valley, it seems my week is completely booked. It’s going to be a very long week of clean up and the rain is expected to continue on for remainder of the week.  It seems I need an emergency plan, the water levels on the river will without question rise.

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Filed under Fiction Writing, Life, Minnesota, Minnesota Fiction