Monthly Archives: September 2012



If there’s one office that could use some innovation (or at least some inspiration!), it’s the DMV, or Department of Motor Vehicles. It’s not a joyful place in any county I’ve lived in. After waiting two hours, I was none too pleased to learn that you can schedule appointments in Hennepin County (Minneapolis) in 20 minute timeframes and get bumped to the front of the line. What, seriously?!  (PSA: here’s the link, which I just shared with a coworker, so I’m paying it forward.)

One, there is always a form for everything and there’s always a line. Two, they had no pens that worked, so I used my own green pen. After waiting 90 minutes, the DMV informed me that green pens were unacceptable and I’d need to re-do the forms. I threw them a look so fierce, I almost startled myself. Yes, I can use black ink and no, I won’t be sitting down again.

Before I left, I snapped a photo of Minneapolis City Hall, with a copper roof that’s now acquired its characteristic green patina There’s at least one bright spot in every day though, and sometimes you can even taste it. I was pleasantly surprised to find a housewarming gift on my front doorstep: Minnesota cookies made by my friend (and now suburban neighbor) Pauline, which she noted are decorated with and without the lakes.

September 20th, 2012|General, Minneapolis|Comments Off on DMV

Burroughs Adding Machine


While today’s kids have fancy games on Xbox Kinect and the Wii, my siblings, cousins and I had imaginations, an 8-track player, and an adding machine, which we used to ring up sales from bartending–Mad-Men style–at the kids bar, also known as my grandparents’ basement. Except our cabinet contained only water, pop, grenadine and the occasional maraschino cherry, most likely to make a Roy Rogers or Shirley Temple. Of course, it still added up to a great time.

September 17th, 2012|General|Comments Off on Burroughs Adding Machine

Driving Lessons


Every fall, my Grandpa Curry would always have two things in his car and his red Ford pickup: a Plen-T-Pack of Big Red gum and ears of seed corn from the fall harvest. When I was a kid, I’d be chewing on a fresh stick of cinnamon gum listening all ears while Grandpa Ed would take me with him to survey cornfields and talk about our family business, in operation since 1935. He’d talk about the “4 F’s”: faith, family, friends and farm, and that nothing is automatic…that everything that’s worth something requires hard work and some effort. Most of all, I remember my grandpa being quite the storyteller.

The spring and summer of 1994, my grandpa gave me driving lessons on gravel country roads on our farm. Aside from an unusual approach that I drive in reverse the whole time, the driving lessons applied less to driving and more to life. [Note: Grandpa reasoned that anyone can drive forward, but not enough people know how to reverse a vehicle properly, so this is where we focused.]

He often stressed that “if God gave you talents, use them. Don’t waste them.” As his eyes scanned over the rows of soybeans and corn, Grandpa Curry talked about goals, ambition, and hard work. He’d talk about how uncommon it was to have a college education generations ago and that my ancestors (both men and women) had committed to earning college diplomas. Grandpa would outline the family tree, sharing stories about relatives I’ve never met and ensure their legacies lived on.

Between cues for left or right turns on the roads, Grandpa talked about being raised by a supportive family and the need to have religious beliefs and values. He would talk about my ancestors who were notable Catholic priests: Msgr. William J. Kerby and his nephew Fr. William Henry Russell. Kerby’s most notable involvement in Catholic social service was helping organize the National Conference of Catholic Charities in 1910, which is today known as Catholic Charities USA.

Grandpa would always find a way to mention “the two most important decisions in your life,” which he’d say with a smile, “are your life’s work and your life’s mate.” He’d reiterate that you’ve got to pursue your passions, likely understanding that farming was not one of mine. We’d talk about his and grandma’s world travels and learning from other cultures, but that no place was quite like home.

When the driving lesson was over, I’d steer the pickup home (forward this time and not in reverse!). I would later realize, when I was older, that I didn’t just learn how to drive. I learned lessons for life and discovered my heritage; and most importantly, I got to know my grandpa.

September 16th, 2012|Nature, People|Comments Off on Driving Lessons

Grandpa’s Workshop


While I’ve never actually seen Grandpa working in his basement workshop, there’s always been something magical about it. …The tidy tools on the wall, and the bolts, screws and nails each nestled in their proper drawer. …The paintbrushes waiting to draw faces on fall pumpkins. …Grandpa Joe’s work table that was his dad Joe’s before him and today was being photographed by grandson Joe.

What I have seen is the craftsmanship that results from the care and mastery of the tools within the workshop. From getting annual holiday ornaments as a kid, to kitchen cutting boards, CD stands, living room furniture, fixing odds ‘n ends, and more, it’s pretty handy to have a grandpa who’s a craftsman.

September 14th, 2012|General|Comments Off on Grandpa’s Workshop

Grandpa Joe


On Saturday, I drove to South Dakota for the weekend and made it to Sioux Falls in time for 4pm Mass at Christ the King church, where my maternal grandparents attend and where my parents married. My grandparents’ Saturday night tradition is fried chicken and beer at The Keg. My mom and my aunt Mary, who was visiting this past week from Phoenix, joined in the fried food, beans, beer, ‘slaw and fun conversation.

My Grandpa Joe has done a lot of woodworking projects for me and my favorite is my CD stand, which received special TLC in my recent move.

September 6th, 2012|Food & Drink, People|Comments Off on Grandpa Joe



Packing and unpacking is the story of my life right now. My Waterford crystal (annual holiday gifts from my past employer) may have finally found a home, where it will see the light of day.

September 5th, 2012|General|Comments Off on Waterford



Numerous people have mentioned Candyland in conversation over the past couple months, and I had no idea what they were talking about. Two weeks ago, I finally stumbled upon it and found it was only two blocks from my office on a street I rarely travel on.

There are no Gumdrop Mountains, Gramma Nutt or Queen Frostine, but there’s a delightful spread of sweets and salty snacks. I went for a box of popcorn, which was delicious. I’m convinced freshly popped popcorn will raise your spirits on any day.

September 2nd, 2012|Minneapolis|Comments Off on Candyland