September 9, 2014

So, it’s been a bit more than two months (or a bit less if I discount the ten (10) days I have spent in Minneapolis) since I arrived.

It has been a whirlwind of activity from unpacking to utility hookups; to a few DMC-related events to visits of friends and a few encounters with family.

There was the usual tornado of Beth Hildebrand’s annual visit to Minnesota and not one, but TWO visits from John Markovich – once with Lizzie and the bike in tow after they vacationed on the Appalachian Trail, and then John alone after he finished judging barbecue at the Olmsted Country Fairgrounds. …just in time to give me a ride to the Kranz/Paul family reunion at my brother Gordie’s -where there was a little time to catch up with Lisa- who was home from Portland for the reunion..

The big happening was an Ojala wedding that brought Elizabeth from Hawaii right here to Rochester for a catch up dinner at Michael’s , then the Groom’s Dinner in Rochester Central Park of the whole “fam damily” -as well as the bride’s family of course, and culminated with wedding and reception in Stewartville, and an after-party at the Hampton Inn South. We still all “played well together “-with a bit less alcohol than in our youth; Fred and Eileen and Grandma would have been proud.

In between all the celebrating, I attended a few DMC-related events, a few community events at the Public Library, became a DMC Ambassador; did my first tour of duty in the DMC booth at Thursdays on First, and walked backed downtown with RT Rybak from a DMC meeting at the Civic Center. He and Bill George are on the Board; they and the RSP Architects folks I know from the MSP Central Riverfront make those meetings seem like I am “home”.

Along the way, I managed to “Celebrate Dakota!” and learn a little about the Native Americans here in the Driftless area of bluffs and hills in SE Minnesota. Who knew Quarry Hill dates back before Rochester? I thought it was just something left over from the State Hospital of my youth…and the only Indians I knew about (except for my aunt and cousins in St. Charles, of course) were the faces on the ”Indianhead Bridge” over the Mississippi in Wabasha on the way up to Chetek and Grandma Bishop’s! So I am looking forward to picking up the Dakota connection from another perspective – although they will always conjure up scenes from Bdote to Nicollet Island for me.

And in between all that, I have tried to walk a new route every day to re-acclimate myself to the town of my youth. Like all towns, it’s grown up and certainly changed along the way. But it is pretty fun to walk down a street that I don’t remember and then all of a sudden recognize something and be flooded with memories of my youth. I walked to Barlow’s Hyvee one day off Civic Center Drive….and almost the whole way, I was flooded with memories of walking to the Brumm’s from RJC with Cheryl …and wondering where they all are today. On a looong walk of six miles the other day through downtown, then along Soldiers Field Golf Course to Apache Mall, and back east to Crossroads and finally home along 3rd Ave SE, I of course, passed several recognizable points that brought back memories….both sisters lived southeast after they were married, but I couldn’t place exactly where for either. Which big old house was Nancy and Doug’s first apartment? And didn’t Rosemary and Nick live someplace near that store, now closed, on the corner on 3rd Avenue SE?

So mostly it’s been fun but not without a few challenges and adjustments. My apartment is in an ideal location for me. Close to downtown business district, along the river, across from Oakland Cemetery, and within a few steps of the great walking/biking trail system…which leads me east to within a block of my brother Gordon’s house or north to Silver Lake Shopping Center.

But then there is the dissembled drain in the bathtub of the bathroom in the 306B “wing” of my house. It fell apart the first shower I took; it has been looked at; photographed, and——-nothing else done in two months. I did get a new faucet for the kitchen sink; but the rest of the things on my list of issues when I moved in have not been addressed. The kitchen is the worst….functional, but! The laminate on cabinets has come unglued everywhere; cupboard doors do not stay closed; the refrigerator freezer “drips” around the door, and the stove is disgusting. All that and MORE including the dirtiest window sills I have ever seen -on a list to them when I moved in and no activity yet. But worse… no garbage disposal. Little did I realize how spoiled one gets when one has modern conveniences. This garbage disposal raises itself as issue every day…even though I daily remind myself I grew up without one, so what’s the big deal? Smell for one, and little black no-see’ums that fly around for another!

And then there is my latest crisis. Thursday, the building maintenance people came to change filter and clean the furnace ducts. Now I have NO IDEA if my latest issue is related to that, but I did not have a fly problem before then, and all of a sudden…..a cloud of little blue/black flies filled my living room. I sprayed, and swatted, and killed almost 30 that first day….but obviously, there were eggs or something someplace…becuz two more days, two more battles with Cheryl thankfully victorious over the flies. Uggghh!

The TV station is truly amateur hour. It is NBC affiliate, so I no longer can access KARE and believe me, I really do not want to hear about every police call in the county and news from every little town – many of which are NOT even in this county! Yikes! And then there is the Post Bulletin. It is an evening paper. Sometimes it comes at 10 in the morning. Sometimes at 1PM like today. But almost never does it come at 4-5 like MOST evening papers. Meanwhile the mailman NEVER shows up before 4PM! Go figure.

Nice window shopping in downtown, but everything you need is at Apache Mall. Keeps all the visitors happy at least, but oh how I miss the downtown TARGET in Minneapolis…and I miss the Lund’s and Whole Foods within walking distance of my house. Rumor has it a REAL grocery store is in the works and at least the Just Rite of my junior college days with the good meat is still in service….and it is not a terrible trek to People’s Coop – just ten blocks – but I hate paying the price of everything ORGANIC. $10.99 a pound for a pork tenderloin is robbery.

So all in all…for most part…good and bad-just like all cities. But then, when I least expect it, it surprises me like this morning.

First, I walked along second street where there was a great chalk artist drawing covering the sidewalk for a block and a half starting at Broadway … it was the invitation and directional sign for the Opening Night Reception for the ”Transform” medical conference that began yesterday. It was fun, colorful, and it made me smile.

And then, around the corner and a block down was UMR (University of Minnesota-Rochester) with the slogan “Changing the DNR of Learning” covering the glass building front and embedded in one of the “cells” representing the DNA was the phrase “Community Engagement”. YES!

Every day, I remind myself: I made this decision to be closer to the DMC and how it moves forward-not only as the Mayo Clinic grows, but how it keeps pace in the creative city making process. Today I learned a new research and design laboratory known as the WELL Living Lab is coming to downtown Rochester. It’s an “open-innovation eco-system for healthy living (which) will simulate realistic living and work environments , including homes, offices, schools, communities and hotels in order to test, monitor and identify the efficacy of wellness-based interventions”. The Mayo Clinic/Delos Living LLC project details are being revealed today at the Transform Symposium. I can’t wait to learn more and for the lab’s debut – scheduled for April, 2015.

Those are the things that make it special here. Those are the things that brought me home.

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