I know, I know. I have to stop using the word delightful. There are times, however, when delightful is the only term that fits the lifted feeling I have in a situation. Such was the case last weekend when TLH (the loving husband) and I attended a graduation open house. The honored graduate, a former neighbor, had been cared for by our oldest daughter in our former life. Subsequent moves separated our families geographically but not in spirit.
Like a computer, the refresh button quickly updated us on the current happenings in our respective family lives. As is often the case, a series of insignificant events combine to make life changing impact. Such was the story of Deb's life in the last two years. As a teacher without a contract, she sought other venues to share her love of children and training in education. She went to Ghana! Yes, that is the Ghana on the other side of the ocean in Africa! Without family, she joined a group from Global Volunteers to begin the venture of a lifetime.
With no suspicion of the impact this trip would have, Deb walked into a new world, a
new phase of her own life, and another adventure. In the town of Senchi Ferry, Deb encountered a group of young people
with minds eager to learn. With very little material wealth, the
people she met had the very things that others spend tons of money to
buy: contentment; gratitude for what they did have; community and
belonging; and appreciation for life. But the classrooms were
devoid of books or maps. The only teaching tools were a blackboard and
chalk, the desks, and the teacher's ingenuity. It seemed unimaginable that the children had never seen a book!
Deb's return stateside began the foray into building a library for Senchi Ferry. Ever respectful of others, the first step was to make sure her aspirations for a library were something the village elders would want in their town. Two things happened on her second trip just months later. The village leaders met her warmly showing the location they had chosen for the library and plans for how it would be built. Her desire for a library was confirmed. Even more uplifting was the reaction from the children when Deb first presented the books she had brought from home. The children gathered round as she read, moving closer to see, and without realizing it, moving even deeper into Deb's heart.
The work of fund raising began. The proper non-profit status was achieved under the Global Volunteers umbrella and publicity began. Of the $50,000 budget anticipated to complete the project, $12,000 has already been donated. One class of fifth graders conducted their own fund raiser after hearing Deb's presentation. They collected 12 boxes of books to be shipped with Deb on her next trip! The project is underway with each one contributing in their own way.
If this project is of interest to you, additional information about Senchi Ferry and the library fund raiser can be found at the Senchi Ferry Library website. Arrangements to donate or to have Deb speak can be handled through the website as well.
Spelling it is the biggest challenge of all. As a grade schooler, we challenged one another to spell Mississippi, but sesquicentennial would have been a bigger challenge. The last two weekends kicked off the State of Minnesota's 150th year of Statehood and the State Capitol in Saint Paul was teeming with more activities than just the legislature! Last weekend marked the arrival of a wagon train which originated in Cannon Falls. This weekend there were tours, fly overs by the Air National Guard, music, speeches, demonstrations all culminating with stupendous fireworks viewed from my front porch! The two weekends were indeed quite full. If you weren't aware of the celebration, more details and statewide celebrations can be found at the Sesquicentennial website.
Dayton's Bluff isn't going to let its housing get torn down. So many others are crying in their beer about the blight and problems that vacant homes create in a neighborhood. Dayton's Bluff doesn't believe in whining. They look for solutions. As a community, Dayton's Bluff has organized a Vacant Homes
"Possibilities Tour" for next weekend May 3-4, Saturday from noon to 5
PM and Sunday from 1 to 5 PM. Note the different spin using the title "Possibilities". What a great advertising piece.
It was doubly amusing to me to find this tour advertised as part of last weekend's tour. Do it yourself-ers or wannabe do it yourself-ers are those checking out the remodeled homes of the Minneapolis St. Paul home tour. The best home buyers for the vacant buildings are those who can, or dream of, restoring an old home to its former glory. The fulfillment (and collapse) of that dream has open season in the vacant home tour. Many of the homes can be purchased for less than market prices compensating the the condition that some will be in.
If you've ever considered doing rehab on an old St. Paul home, this might be a way to check out your options. The tour starts at 798 East 7th Street in St. Paul with FREE trolley rides to the homes! The trolley ride alone is an attraction for me! More info can be obtained at the Dayton's Bluff website.
Another one of those circulating e-mails warning of a scam came my way this morning. Normally www.snopes.com is my first resource to verify if these scam warnings are real or not. This e-mail had a note attached that the sender (someone I knew) had already checked snopes and it verified, so I read on. There was a link to an FBI site at the end of the e-mail which I checked. The e-mail was so old that the original FBI headline was published June 2, 2006 but it's still circulating (nothing ever dies on the internet).
What was a surprise to me was that the FBI had a public website and there were all kinds of resources available. There is even an e-mail alert registration in which you can sign up for the kind of alerts that I received from a colleague. The best part of all for me as a grandma is the kids section. There are games to play and other teaching tools. Just the kind of thing parents and grandparents love to do with their children.
Today is the big grass roots Tuesday in Minnesota. Most voters flock to the final elections, but once you've participated in the caucus system, it becomes very apparent what "grass roots" means. The organized votes cast at the caucus level can change an entire party platform, and everyone knows, the caucus votes determine who the rest of the nation will vote for at the presidential election.
If, like me, you've not lived in your current location long enough to know where your caucus meets, you can find the Minnesota locations at this web site. If you've never been to a caucus, you might be surprised at how small the group of decision makers really is.
The opportunity to vote for St. Paul City Council and school board members is tomorrow. Now is the time to make your voice heard. You can check out the candidates for city council at this website. Click on your ward number first and then click on the candidates to see the political statement for each candidate. Videos of the debates in each ward are available from links on that site as well. Your voting place and sample ballots can be found here.
Humans keep trying to twist time to meet their needs instead of just following the sun. As a result, tonight is the night that St. Paul clocks should be change to "fall back" one hour. The official time change is at 2:00 AM Sunday morning, but most of us will run around our houses tonight making the change before bedtime.
Let's see now. If it's 10:00 PM now, fall back means I turn the clock back to 9:00 PM? It never makes sense to get extra sleep in the fall when we're just beginning the rigors of school and studies but lose an hour of sleep in the spring when children are worn out and cranky. The adjustment has to be made, however, so we can all get to the same place at the same time!
For the last 5 years June has been celebrated as National Homeownership Month. President Bush started the initiative with the goal to increase minority ownership by 5.5 million by the end of the decade.
Since wage increases have not kept pace with home prices in the last five years, it has decreased the ability of many people to purchase a home. However, there are still special funding programs that fit with the goal of National Homeownership Month.
One such program has been used by 2 of my clients this year and introduced me to a new loan officer. The CASA (Community Activity Set Aside) program as explained by Nathan Marsten of Homestead Mortgage in Arden Hills is definitely a tool that could help encourage home ownership, at least among the working class of people.
CASA has 3 target populations:
Single heads of households (Single parent with dependent children)
Emerging markets (minorities)
Work force initiative (Companies contribute to the real estate purchases)
Homestead Mortgage participates in the CASA program. Like other specialty programs there are income restrictions and "fine print" to read, but if one qualifies, there appear to be resources available.
Having heard the rumors of the postage increase and wanting to avoid the last minute rush for 2 cent stamps to fill out my old supply, the trek was made to the US Post Office. The request was for a roll of 100 new stamps ($.41 each) and a book of "2 centers". The stamp in the picture is what my $.41 cent roll looks like. No numbers? Hmmmm. Is this one of the new "forever stamps" I'd heard rumors about?
The ever helpful internet not only eliminated the stamp above from the "forever stamp" category, but also substantiated the rumored "forever stamp". Check out this little snapshot straight from the US Postal service website:
The rumor is true. There is going to be a stamp that can be purchased for the May 14, 2007, price of $.41 which can be used forever (or until they change their mind!) on one ounce first class letters regardless of whether the price goes up or not (which, of course, we all know it will!)!
Instantly, my question is whether people will stock up on them. Will there be a rush to the post office like there was to the West when gold was discovered? Will enterprising entrepreneurs buy warehouses of these stamps to sell at future profits?
Full details on the rate change can be found at the US Post Office website.