Keeping busy in Fergus Falls
I may have neglected this blog for nearly a year, but that doesn't mean I forgot about it entirely. That's the good thing about blogs - you can always jump back in.
Well, I've been in Fergus Falls for one year this month. I've tried a few new things since I've been here, like sand volleyball last summer. That was a fun experience each week. I met some people and just had a good time in the outdoors.
I continue to sing in the church choir, at the church I officially joined this fall. A couple of the choir members encouraged me to join the handbell choir, something I've never done before. It's been a learning experience for sure, but I've enjoyed it so far. The biggest surprise is how different it is reading music, versus when I sing or play piano.
I got back into bowling by joining a women's league. It was something I wanted to do in Austin but just didn't work out schedule-wise. I'm striving each week to improve on my game and become a more consistent bowler.
Of course, I still enjoy walking (during nice weather), keeping up with my favorite sporting events and just reading a good book once in awhile.
Adjusting to Fergus Falls life
Happy Easter! Spring hasn't really sprung yet around here, but at least the Easter season has arrived. I got to spend the day with my family, which is always nice. The only thing I really missed today was being able to sing with the St. Olaf Lutheran Church choir down in Austin. I very much enjoyed last year's Good Friday and Easter services. I guess I will just have to work quickly to find another home church here in Fergus Falls so I can join a choir and meet some people.
I've been at my new job for more than a month now, which seems odd. I'm still really getting adjusted to a lot of the differences with my Daily Journal job versus my Austin Post-Bulletin job. I'm slowly getting adapted to the crime beat and learning more and more with that all the time, it seems.
With the weather still being so snowy and cold, it hasn't been a priority to get out and about. Although I have visited the city bakery downtown a couple of times already. I love that there's a bakery here, but I have a feeling that can also be a dangerous thing. Dangerous calorie-wise anyway. I'm excited for some nicer weather and for summer to arrive so I can start enjoying some of the lakes and other fun things around my new community.
New chapter in Fergus Falls
Yesterday, I started a new job as a city reporter at the Fergus Falls Daily Journal in Fergus Falls, Minn. As first days go, it wasn't bad. I haven't been a big fan of first days on the job because I don't like that feeling of not knowing anything. I'm fine with asking for help or asking questions, but I still feel a little uneasy when I trying to adapt and learn new things. It just takes a little time.
I'm trying to block out of my mind that Austin, Minn. and even the Twin Cities have smaller snow packs than up here in Fergus. That's the downside to the move, is the slight climate change. But hey, I'm just looking foward to summer since there are so many lakes around here. That will be a big change from Mower County where it's dry as a bone.
I haven't made the complete move up here yet, but I think I will like it here in Fergus Falls. I don't know anyone here. Then again, I didn't know anyone in Austin either. And I'm leaving there after two years with some great friends and contacts. I mean, my church choir sent me off with coffee and cupcakes, I had a nice happy hour with some of my school district friends, and a couple neighbors in my building who I always saw on the patio stopped the other day to give me hugs.
Oh, and I finally won at bingo last Thursday night. Life is good.
Vacations should be manadtory during Minnesota winters. No, really. At some point during the long, bitterly-cold, snowy winter, all Minnesota residents should be required to take a vacation to a much warmer climate. Just think of how refreshed and how much better you would feel if you got to take that vacation. Some people do this already but others aren't so lucky.
Winters in Minnesota are harsh. Right now, we're in the depths of a deep freeze, where the high temps hover around zero degrees. Whether it's in the single digits or below zero, it doesn't seem to matter - it's cold.
As much as I complain about the cold of the winter, I dislike the snow a lot more. Probably the biggest reason is because if it's just really cold, that usually doesn't make driving places a hassle. The snow on the other hand, can make driving a nightmare. Who has fun driving around when the white stuff is falling? Certainly not me.
So, I guess I will just have to suck it up this winter like I usually do and hope that some day, vacations become mandatory.
Chances are, you have a family tradition or two. Whether it's around the holidays or just something average, families have traditions. It's part of what makes your family so special and unique.
Many traditions are started and fulfilled during the Christmas season. For instance, my family goes to the Olive Garden for dinner on Christmas Eve. This has been our tradition since 2003. We had no idea it would really turn into such an annual event, but it's been something nice that we can rely on.
I have a friend whose Christmas tradition includes going through the Arby's drive-thru and munching on roast beef and curly fries in the car as they drive around and look at Christmas lights. Others always go to a certain family member's house for the holiday. I have a friend from high school whose family has brunch on Christmas morning, complete with mimosas.
Whatever your traditions, they're important. They produce some of the best memories or funny stories that you'll remember for a long time. It's always good to continue traditions, but sometimes changing things up and starting new traditions isn't bad either.
'Tis the season
It's November, so I guess that means it's Chrismas time. Each year, the kickoff to the holiday season seems to get earlier and earlier. Many stores opened their doors at midnight for Black Friday last year, and now Walmart announced it will open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving night, and Target will open at 9 p.m. It's getting ridiculous, if you ask me.
I really liked something late-night host Jimmy Kimmel said in his monologue this week: "Pretty soon we'll be eating our Thanksgiving dinner at Walmart." That's probably true.
Many I'm somewhat of an outlier with holidays. My family has never done things early. We usually shoot to eat holiday dinners around 4 or so, which makes it a late evening when we have Christmas. I'd rather just crash on the couch with my family after the meal, instead of worrying about Black Friday shopping. I've also started the Thanksgiving tradition of watching some of the best Friends episodes as well.
Last year was the first time I ever even went out for Black Friday shopping. Me and my parents drove around and looked at the long lines waiting to get into the stores for the midnight opening. Then, we went inside after the initial rush died down after 1 a.m. It wasn't too bad. I got a couple cheap DVDs.
But I really think the Christmas season has started too early. Television channels have a period where they run lots of Christmas movies. Now they've started earlier by having a "countdown" to it with more Christmas movies. The Hallmark Channel started right after Halloween this year.
The commercialization and holiday hype just gets more and more annoying to me. At some point, it has me longing for January.
Get out and vote
The election is 14 days away. The final presidential debate was last night. By this point, many are probably just wishing this whole election thing would hurry up and get itself over with. I'd say I probably prefer that attitude, however, to the people who could care less and don't even go to the polls to vote.
This year is a big election. Nationally, you've got the biggest race of all in the presidential election. In the state of Minnesota, there are tons of races to keep track of as well on both a state-wide scale and locally. It's a lot to keep track of when you're in the journalism world, so I'm going to try my best to not get too overwhelmed come election night.
Legislative seats, school board, city council, senate, mayor, congress. Oh, so many races.
I'll admit I'm not the most politically-minded person out there, but I have paid enough attention to keep myself informed. I have also voted in each election since I was 18 (which just happened to be a presidential one), including my college years when I voted absentee.
I guess I've never understood why people don't go out and vote. I believe that the cliche is true - each vote counts. So I really encourage every one to get out and vote this election. It doesn't matter who you choose to vote for, as long as you do your civic duty and vote.
Where did the summer go?
It's already the middle of September. How did that happen? Summer certainly flew by. It's really hard to believe that school is back in session, football games are once again the norm for weekend festivities and that the dreaded cold weather looms. Can't I just go back to summer for a bit?
I love summer. I love the weather. Give me a 90-degree day over bitter cold and snow anytime. There isn't much that's better than relaxing by a lake in the hot sun with a good book to keep me company. Unfortunately, I didn't get out to the lake very often. Part of that may be because Austin is in Mower County, which is like the only county in the land of 10,000 lakes without a natural lake.
I did take a lot of walks this summer, and spent some evenings on the patio with my book, and a few of my neighbors. We had some strings of very hot weather, including around the Fourth of July. We marched in the annual parade in Austin for work, a group of Austin Post-Bulletin staff and friends. It wasn't too bad. Plus, the drinks and eats at the local watering hole B & J with good friends and my family made it all worth it,
The great Minnesota get-together
It's the end of August and start of September, which means a time of transition for Minnesotans. The Minnesota State Fair is the final 12-day fling before we all say goodbye to summer and welcome the new school year. Of course, now that I'm done with school I enjoy Labor Day much more than I used to, because it's a day off.
The state fair has always been a tradition for me and my family. I have not missed a year of it, a fact that I'm now quite proud of. It used to always be one day-long trip on a weekend with the four of us. As I got older, I would go twice, usually with a friend or friends the second time.
Hands down the best part of the state fair is the food. Cheese curds, Sweet Martha's chocolate chip cookies and mini donuts were always the three items we just had to have each year. I'd say that's certainly still true. I do eat other things, too, like pronto pups, deep-dried candy bars or Oreos, malts, chocolate-covered key lime pie bars, pizza (of course) and other items I'm sure I'm forgetting about.
It's also fun to people watch at the fair. I even made up my own game where I keep a running tally of the number of Vikings jerseys I see while wondering the grounds. This past Sunday it was 28.
There's plenty to see and do at the fair as well. If you haven't been, give it a try. Maybe you could make it your tradition, too.
A little spontaneity
I've realized that I'm a more spontaneous person than I have been in the past. Most of that probably has to do with my job. It's tough to plan things out completely when your schedule is so unpredictable with no shortage of long hours.
When I do get out of the office at a decent time, which usually means before 6 p.m., it's almost like I don't know what to do with myself. On the one hand, I have a huge block of time so I'd like to get out and do something fun. Of course, I'm not usually one to turn down a quiet night at home with my DVD collection or a good book either.
Tonight I was done with work just after 5 p.m., which is a pretty good feeling. I went home and made dinner. Then, I decided to head out to the ballpark to see my co-worker's daughter play tee ball. I actually hadn't watched organized tee ball before. The young kids each bat twice, and in the field they all chase after the ball in a big pack. It was pretty cute to watch.
Some more thoughts. Not necessarily from the stands, just from Heather.