Another glorious day for Minnesota’s schoolchildren

Down to Earth by Michael Cheval

School has been canceled once again (at least in our district), this time at the School District’s discretion, due to temperatures inhospitable to human life.

That’s my Jasmine up there on that bike.

“When it says that frostbite can occur in five to 10 minutes, that makes
us concerned for student safety.” — Anoka Hennepin spokeswoman Mary

Indeed! You can read more here.

Subways flooded, Stock Exchange closed, millions without power

Water races where the tap of shoes is wont to bear, on subway steps and massive transit stairs.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Barack Obama on Tuesday morning signed major-disaster
declarations for New Jersey and New York, two states that have faced
severe flooding (with reports from other news sources saying that the subways are also flooded) and wind damage from Hurricane Sandy.

The Wall Street Journal reports: “Mr. Obama signed the declarations early
Tuesday as residents of the states awoke in many places to several feet
of water and no electricity. The declarations free up federal resources
to help the affected areas.

“The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of
New Jersey and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local
recovery efforts due to Hurricane Sandy beginning on October 26, 2012,
and continuing,” the White House said in a statement. A similar
statement was released for New York.

A White House official said Mr. Obama was updated on Sandy overnight
and will receive another briefing Tuesday. Mr. Obama spoke overnight
with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
He also spoke with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the mayors
of Newark and Jersey City.

The president earlier in the week signed disaster declarations for a
number of states along the East Coast, including Delaware, Connecticut,
New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

These declarations were different and didn’t describe the states as
facing a “major disaster,” a label that helps free up more federal
resources.” Read the entire article here

How to help after the superestorm

CNN has an article with links on how to help after the superstorm. Here is an excerpt::

“Relief groups are already working to make sure everyone affected by the storm is cared for, and you can help.

Give food and shelter — The Red Cross and the Salvation Army are providing emergency shelter and meals for evacuees.

Help children in need Save the Children and World Vision are paying special attention to the needs of children affected by the storm.

Care for animals — The Humane Society of the United States and the American Humane Association have teams working to save the lives of animals caught in the storm.

Provide emergency supplies AmeriCares, Direct Relief International and Feeding America are providing food, medical supplies and emergency kits for people in need.

Join in the cleanup Team Rubicon has dispatched veteran field teams to start working right away, and Samaritan’s Purse is looking for volunteers to help rebuild after the storm passes.

Help outside the U.S. — Hurricane Sandy took a deadly toll on the Caribbean before it hit the United States. Operation USA and the International Medical Corps are helping people affected by Sandy in Haiti and Cuba.”  Read the entire article here.

More coverage:

CBS News reports, Super Storm Sandy: More than 7 million without power
Forbes reports: Wall Street Stays Dark In Sandy’s Wake, Exchanges Work to Restart Trading

NBC New York reports: Water Floods Subways, Service Likely ti Be Out for Days

Blueberry Coffee Cake

I made this blueberry coffee cake on yesterday’s rainy Sunday afternoon. It got rave reviews. My daughter, Jasmine Rain, also suggested that I make a variation on it and call it  rain cake. She said rain cake can only be eaten when it’s raining outside and it must be garnished with jasmine flowers sprinkled with raindrops. The next time I am home on a rainy day I’ll give it a try!

Can’t make rain cake today because it is SNOWING out on this April Monday. Yep. I do live in Minnesota.

Photo by Jasmine Rain Hyder


Blueberry Coffee Cake Recipe (Yields 1-9 inch Bundt cake)


  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup secret ingredient
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 5/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  •  2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar for dusting


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9 inch Bundt pan.

  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar
    until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in
    the secret ingredient and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt;
    stir into the batter just until blended. Fold in blueberries.

  3. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan. In a
    small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans.
    Sprinkle half of this mixture over the batter in the pan. Spoon
    remaining batter over the top, and then sprinkle the remaining pecan
    mixture over. Use a knife or thin spatula to swirl the sugar layer into
    the cake.

  4. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes in the preheated oven, or
    until a knife inserted into the crown of the cake comes out clean. Cool
    in the pan over a wire rack. Invert onto a serving plate, and tap firmly
    to remove from the pan. Dust with confectioners sugar just before

Autumn Bridge

Annette Marie Hyder

The autumn forest
wet with rain
is a lucid dream
where all the colors
shine like glass
that has been polished
in the wind.

Every leaf is a door
that shakes and shudders
trembling to be opened
and behind which stand
all the trees of time

Fire and rain blend,
become a gateway
or a bridge
spanning from one season
to the next —
inviting one to cross.

Clouds of cool, pillows of refreshment

There was something I was waiting for last night and I just couldn’t fall asleep because of the waiting for it. I wondered what it was that had me so expectant and then it hit me.

When my mother remarried for the first time after my father died, she married a man much older than herself, one who had been in the Navy. His name was Elmer, Elmer *Stinpinchky.

He always had (and I don’t think this a “Navy guy” state of mind — just his own parsimonious personality) special little money-saving things for the whole family to do. Like, he wanted us all to take “Navy” showers (a special routine he learned in — you guessed it, the Navy). That’s where you get in the shower, turn on the water and get wet and then turn off the water. With the water off, you soap up. After thoroughly soaping and washing, you turn the water back on and rinse. Then you turn the water off — immediately — and get out.

My younger brother and I constantly flouted this shower rule and Elmer, in turn, constantly berated us bitterly about it. He habitually harassed us about it because, guess what? He was listening at the door to gauge our compliance. I know, right? Pretty creepy. My mother asked us to comply with his rules and we always assured her we would and probably had every intention of obeying our mother — until confronted with the actuality.

To this day I take v-e-r-y long showers.

Well, his concerns for household expenditures extended to every aspect of daily living and, of course, to the running of the air-conditioning. We lived in Florida and he refused to run the air-conditioning during the day (when it was the hottest). At night he set the temperature for a delightfully refreshing 80 degrees Fahrenheit. My younger brother and I hated this with a passion. Elmer’s arbitrary control of the cool air was a challenge to us — a cannon shot over the prow of our childhood sense of right. He pricked us to our very cores and provoked us to rebel by making us lie in the sweltering heat waiting for the air-conditioning to come on so that we could fall asleep to its comforting song.

The fact that he had very keen hearing, was a light sleeper and could immediately pounce on any air-conditioning infractions didn’t deter us once he had whipped our hearts to mutiny. It really became an all-out war with reconnaissance and special missions on our part against his temperature tyranny.

Elmer and my mother would go to bed and as soon as we heard him snoring, I would, or my brother would, creep out into the hall from our respective rooms and adjust the temperature. This would result in, most times, the enemy charging forth from his room and bellowing about what bad kids we were and turning the temp back to what he wanted (oh, and the horror of seeing him flap around in his boxer shorts and t-shirt as he ranted and brandished his fist!). But sometimes, oh sometimes, he would sleep right through long enough for the air-conditioning to whisk us off into dreams on a cloud of cool.

Finally, tiring of the nightly skirmishes, Elmer came upon what he thought was the perfect solution and which, I admit, at first brought bitter defeat into our hearts: A Honeywell TG511A Universal Thermostat Lock Box…

Image courtesy of the Honeywell Company

Product description from the Honeywell site:

“Make sure your temperature settings stay just where they should be with
the Honeywell TG511A universal thermostat lock box. Compatible with a
wide range of thermostats, this lock box protects against unauthorized
temperature changes while still permitting temperature monitoring. It
also shields your thermostat from unintentional damage as well as wear
and tear.”

But we were not deterred indefinitely. We discovered that touching the thermostat was not necessary to triggering the thermostat. A bump against the wall would trigger the mechanism by jostling the delicate spring system by which the arrow indicator maintained its balance. So, once the lock box was installed we all slept the better for it. Elmer could sleep secure with the knowledge that he held the key and we, we could sleep in comfort once his snoring began and the wall had been gently bumped goodnight.

Last night, on the heels of such hot weather I might have mistaken myself for being back in Florida and with humidity licking at the windows, last night I was waiting for the air-conditioning to click on — just like when I was little.

*Last name changed per my mom’s request

Something to cool off with

Yesterday, Moorehead Minnesota’s heat index was the highest anywhere in the world, according to The Washington Post. With the oppressive heat we’ve been experiencing here in Minnesota, I thought I’d share a cooler vista, a cold perspective from earlier this year. Feel free to fan yourself, metaphorically, with the following:

Winter landscape

Photo Annette Marie Hyder

Winter 2011
Annette Marie Hyder

The rain was falling like soft tears
but has hardened now into snow—
this can often happen with the heart
as well as with the weather.

A walk in the rain on Saturday

Photo by Jasmine Rain Hyder

Purple, yellow, black and sage, color this rainy bumblebee page

Wending our way in the rain with red rainboots and a shared umbrella, my daughter and I came across this busy bumblebee. He hit every one of those flowers while we watched. He looked like he was intoxicated by the nectar, not so much breezing from flower to flower as bumping like a black and yellow go-kart from sip to sip. So many flowers, so little time…

At the end of the rainbow

Annette Marie Hyder

The rain streams in jewels down the window
clinks its coins on the street.

I turn away from its showy display of wealth
to trace the path of space between us.
My eyes mark the rainbow curve
that arcs from me and ends at you.

Are you the pot of gold at the rainbow’s end?
I’m Irish enough to reach for you.