The End, Part I

It is finished. I bound off this evening and blocked it and it’s now folded up and stashed away ready for delivery tomorrow.

I’ll post pictures tomorrow; I have to go to bed now so that I can work a 6-8 a.m. volunteer shift at Herberger’s Community Day in the morning! If you’re looking to get a head start on your holiday shopping, check out your local Herbergers/Boston Store/Younkers/Carson Pirie Scott and get a coupon booklet for the sale tomorrow. The money from the sale of the coupon book goes to support local charities and you save money on your holiday shopping!


Rain, rain, go away..

Several days later, city administrators and home owners affected (effected? I never remember when to use which..) by the flooding in southeastern MN are exhausted. For as quickly as the damage was done, the clean up and recovery is slow, tedious work, made all the worse by the seemingly ceaseless rain that’s still falling daily.

The grey is simply draining; one could wish the water itself would drain so well.

Root River, Hokah, MN

Twin Creeks Golf Course, Hokah, MN

Hill s(l)ide, first house in Hokah heading east on Highway 44

Bottom of the hill in Hokah, near the Junction Inn

A flooded field outside Hokah, MN

Flooded farmland outside Hokah, MN

Flooded pasture between Hokah & La Crescent, MN

More fields and pastures..

.. and still more..

Approaching the Highway 26 bridge over the Root River & marshlands

Highway 26 bridge over the Root River & marshlands

Wednesday morning clean up continues in La Crescent, MN

Train tracks in La Crescent, MN, Wednesday morning

A small train bridge in La Crescent, MN, Wednesday morning; the flooding left the bridge intact, but sluiced away the ground supporting the tracks on either side leading up to and away from the bridge

As a woman in Rushford said this morning on Minnesota Public Radio, this isn’t the worst tragedy the nation has seen, but it’s still pretty bad. Many families are homeless and, due to the loss of many small businesses, without a means of income to support their families. Most of these homes are not in a flood plain and therefore weren’t covered by flood insurance. It’s unclear yet what, if anything, FEMA will be able to do to assist. If you want to help, you can donate money or time to the Red Cross. If you’re in the area, you can donate any of the following items to Nicole Wilkes at Houston County Women’s Resources (114 Main Street, Hokah, MN) for distribution to families in need:

  • Cleaning Products
  • Blankets/Bedding
  • Personal Care Items
  • Non-perishable Food Items (With Minimal Preparation)
  • Gift Cards for grocery, department, and hardware stores


Representatives Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter that is intended to demonstrate to House Appropriators how important the Sexual Assault Service Program (SASP) is and to request full funding for the program in Fiscal Year 2008. Dear Colleague letters are generally initiated by two Members of Congress (usually a democrat and a republican). These letters are sent to each Congressperson to ask for their signature to show support for funding a particular program or to gather support for pending legislation.

We need your help to get as many members of Congress as possible to sign on to this letter to show that SASP is an important program to all communities across the country. The deadline is this Friday, March 16. In 2006, 110 representatives signed a Dear Colleague in support of SASP funding for Fiscal Year 2007. It’s crucial that we show the same level of support for SASP in 2008.

Background: The Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP) was authorized by the Violence Against Women Act of 2005. SASP is the first federal program to provide a direct and dedicated funding stream for services to victims by rape crisis centers and other sexual assault organizations. SASP funding is also directed to Native American tribes as well as culturally-specific organizations to better reach and serve victims in communities that have been historically underserved. In addition, SASP makes resources available to state, territory, and tribal sexual assault coalitions who work to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of local programs. For more information on SASP, visit the National Center for Victims of Crime website.

Please call your representative today to ask him or her to sign onto the Baldwin/McCotter Dear Colleague letter in support of SASP. Congressional staffers who have questions or want to sign on can contact Elizabeth Pika in Rep. Baldwin’s office at 202) 225-2906. If you don’t know how to reach your representative go to or call the Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121, and they will connect you.

If you have any questions, please contact Ilse Knecht, Deputy Director, Public Policy at 703-732-2446 or

Current signatures include:
1. Tammy Baldwin
2. Thaddeus McCotter
3. Dennis Moore
4. Rick Boucher
5. Neil Abercrombie
6. Jim Costa
7. Carolyn McCarthy
8. Todd Russell Platts
9. Luis G. Fortuno
10. Elijah Cummings
11. Howard Berman
12. Mike Michaud
13. Dianna DeGette
14. George Miller
15. Jim Langevin
16. Michael E. Capuano
17. Stephanie Herseth

[Note: We are still uncertain about the Fiscal Year 2007 funding levels for SASP. Because Congress passed a continuing resolution for the whole of 2007 for all agencies and did not direct how federal agencies are to spend those dollars, federal agencies are still sorting out how they will spend those funds].

{All above text excerpted from an email message forwarded by the staff of Houston County Women’s Resources.}

Thoughts on stewardship

Those who’ve been reading for a bit pr’bly know that last summer, after having served on the HCWR Board for just six months, I was elected President (I swear I talked about this here, but I can’t find an entry on it.. hrm.. maybe you don’t know this?) after our then-President was reassigned to another parish by her Bishop mid-year. This was in no way any sort of overwhelming statement about my abilities – it was simply that I was the only regularly attending Board member left who wasn’t already an officer. While the Vice President would normally have stepped up, the woman in that role had stated unequivocally that due to other projects she was engaged in at work she did not feel she could serve as President. She assured me, though, that she felt she would be able to step up to fill the role at the turn of the new year when the next full round of Board Officer elections was scheduled.

Two or three months after I was elected, the Executive Director of the agency for the past 14 years decided to pursue a new opportunity and I was suddenly President of a Board of Directors faced with replacing a much-loved and admired Executive Director. While I can claim none of the credit, we managed to mount a successful regional search and hired a new ED before the end of the calendar year. We celebrated our annual meeting by paying tribute to the outgoing ED, introducing our incoming ED, and welcoming no fewer than 7 new members to our Board of Directors, more than doubling the size of the Board from the previous year.

Due to the transition in ED and the comparative new-ness of a large portion of the Board, the Board elected to postpone new officer elections until our April meeting. This allowed the remaining members of the Board – all officers by necessity – to work as an Executive Team with the new ED through the first few months of the transition period while the newer members of the Board learned more about the agency and our responsibilities as a Board for a non-profit agency. It also allowed me to take some initiative to craft the new, larger board into the body that I felt we should be in order to best serve the agency by establishing an updated committee structure and making some changes to regular Board meetings that will allow the committees to meet as part of the regular Board meeting time each month, a move that I hope means our committees will be more viable and productive.

I’ve been on the fence about the April elections. Part of me knows all too well that I’m not prepared for the role of Board President – I’m comparatively new to the area and not at all well connected within the community we serve; while I’m grounded in domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy principles, the vast majority of my work in the field has occurred in much larger cities with inbedded infrastructure such as public transportation and multiple emergency shelters, not in the considerably more rural environment HCWR serves; and I’m facing another uncertain year of expectations in my day job, with 5 of the top 7 administrative positions currently held by interim appointments, including my direct supervisor.

Another part of me, though, recognizes that I *can* lead (this is a part of my skills and ability that I’m still adjusting to, so my confidence wanes at times, but in the end, I do know I can be a capable leader). The simple fact that in a few short months, I’ve managed to enact several changes in the Board operations that I hope will move the agency as a whole forward stands as testament to my ability to make things happen (instead of just talking about the need for change). My fellow Board members are also extraordinarily supportive – they make it easy for me to lead and seem generally appreciative of the thought I tend to put into proposed changes. And our Vice President keeps reminding me that she has a son who is a high school senior, so this year really isn’t ideal for her to step up, either.

So, while I can’t count the number of times I’ve wished to be “ousted”, I’m also recognizing that the bulk of the “hard” work is done. Things are settling down to the more routine work of the Board, but unlike last year, there are many more members of the Board to assist in that work which will hopefully mean we will all work hard, but none of us will have to work to the point of burn out (hopefully including the agency staff).

And that leaves me on the proverbial fence.. I’m perfectly willing to step aside and let any of the many equally (or even more) capable Board members take the helm; but I think I’m also willing to stay in the role if my fellow Board members want me to. It’s sort of an odd place to be after several months of turmoil and change.

Shopping for a good cause, anyone?

Want to support an agency that works year round with women & children victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and get some great deals on clothing, housewares, and more at the same time? If so, you can purchase a Community Day coupon booklet – which has a $10 coupon and eight %-off coupons all good on March 3 (and only March 3) *on top of to special one-day sale prices* at any non-New Jersey location of the Bon-Ton, Bergners, Boston Store, Carson Pirie Scott, Elder-Beerman, Herberger’s, or Younkers.

The booklets are $5 each (so you get your money back and then some when you use the coupons) and the money from the sale goes directly to support the programs and services provided by Houston County Women’s Resources (disclaimer: I’m on the Board of HCWR). If you want a booklet, let me know!

Oh, and there are also a couple special one-day sales that day – like $30 off their entire stock of Men’s & Women’s Clarks shoes, or Leisure Lakeside luggage for $19.97 per piece (originally $80-$120 per piece). You can’t use the %-off coupons on the bonus buys, but they’re still pretty good deals.

They do Community Days twice a year and last spring we got some very good deals (like a $100 jacket for Jack for $5). It’s getting close to spring and time to refresh your wardrobe and Community Day means you save money and donate to a great cause at the same time.

Melancholy, but getting better..

Despite what was not a bad weekend, I find myself in a melancholy mood this evening.

Friday night at the fair was a little odd, but not terribly surprising. When you’re sitting at a booth for the Child Abuse Prevention Council, it’s really not very surprising when people don’t want to stop and chat, I guess. I mean, no one wants anyone else to think that they might *need* information provided by such a group, and in all honesty, the booth was not really all that inviting. So I spent a couple hours hanging out with a very nice, if rather shy, 16-year-old girl and answering occasional questions about HCWR. And knitting. I got several inches of mom’s Panobo shrug finished, but, you know, since she checks in here every now and then, no pictures. Yet. *tease*

I also touched base with a couple of folks running for state office in this area. This is by far the most .. bizarre effect of being involved with the BOD for HCWR. Local candidates *remember* who I am when they meet me. It’s .. odd, especially for someone who tries to stay behind the scenes. But a couple local candidates have gotten to the point where they’re *people* when they talk to me, not *candidates*, which I have to admit makes me want them up there in the state legislature all the more. Knowing who they are behind their platforms and campaign materials goes a long way toward me believing that they really do believe the same sorts of things I do. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but talking to one candidate about how exhausting it can be to get up and milk the cows, then run out and pick up his grand-daughter before heading out to a community parade, followed by a brief appearance at a different community on the other side of the district, and then by a stint at the county fair, only to look forward to having to milk the cows again when he gets home.. *shrug* I trust him. I trust that he really *does* want to do this because he cares about the *people* in this district. Yeah.. not sure that really gets it, but.. yeah.

Saturday was good, if ridership was lower than we’d hoped. But everyone who rode was really wonderful. Just Good Folks(tm). There were some frustrations with the map, some confusion about the sheer number of different raffles/drawings/give-aways that were happening throughout the day (there were, I think, at least 5, which is admittedly a bit of overkill), but mostly, folks seemed to enjoy themselves and enjoy the route we planned. I kept a list of the things people mentioned that could have been improved, or that were confusing, so next year we’ll be able to make it an even better experience.

Today, we tried to sleep in, but there’s a new ‘hound somewhere in the neighborhood that starting howling at least four times between 3 and 5 a.m. Ugh. We sleep with the windows open because it’s cool enough that way, but had to shut the bedroom windows at 4:30 a.m. just to try to snatch a few more hours of rest. Fortunately, we didn’t have any really solid plans for the day – just a quick run up to the county fair to check things out (and pick up lawn signs for the aforementioned candidates) – so we both napped in front of a movie this afternoon. The porch didn’t get scraped, but that’s not such a big deal. I’m sure we’ll work on it sometime this week.

In spinning news, I’ve been working some more on the Shetland from Cate. Now that I have some more wool coming in for my small but growing stash, I figure it’s safe to spin what I have already. I still have a bit of the Shetland to spin, but that’ll allow me to compare it with the merino I have coming. I also got an email this evening from my friend on the farm with the Clun-Forest sheep telling me that even though I wasn’t able to make it out to help them shear, they set aside not one, but TWO(!) lamb fleeces for me!! I can’t wait to get them and take my first foray into cleaning and processing raw fleece. And with two fleeces, I’m sure I’ll have enough to make something really wonderful from the yarn. So in the span of about a week, I’ve managed to go from a small but manageable fleece stash to more fleece than I know quite what to do with (well, not really.. I already have ideas for what I’d like to eventually make with most of it)! *squee*!!

And now, after writing this post (and a few intervening emails), I’m happy to report that I’m no longer feeling melancholy. Instead, I’m rejuvenated and off to spin some Shetland and wonder about the joys(?) of cleaning my first raw fleeces.

Drive by..

Still here.

Cate is once again my hero this week.*

I did get 3 lbs of merino roving (!) and I’m off work all next week, so I’m sure I’ll start to spin some of it. Can’t wait! I’m thinking of trying to spin it so it’ll be DK-weight (I think.. I always mix up which of DK and sport weight is lighter) when plied so I can make a sweater out of it.. I even have one in mind (one of the ones from Inspired Cable Knits, but I can’t recall the name at the moment), so here’s to ambition!

In the meantime, I’m off to sit at the Child Abuse Prevention Network booth at the county fair tonight and to try to sell more raffle tickets for HCWR’s rally raffle tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll be running around for registration and manning stops all day and then helping out where I can in the early evening for the Rally. Sunday we’re going to try to finish scraping the porch so we can investigate renting a floor sander Monday or Tuesday and apply the sealant Wednesday or Thursday.

* For those interested, US News & World Report annual college rankings were released to the public today; they were released under embargo to colleges on Wednesday, but apparently US News only notified Public Relations folks of this, so those of us in IR were left in the dark unless our PR folks clued us in. Mine didn’t, but an off-hand comment from Cate did, so I was able to track down the rankings and get copies, which ended up being a good thing because I’ve talked to two members of the press so far today already. (CRAZY! Who wants to talk to an institutional researcher for a news story?!)