Back to work after some “time off” (not really, because campgrounds are not immune from internet access, and an advocate’s work never ends).  For the first time, we loaded up the van and headed east, to Wisconsin’s Mirror Lake State Park.  I was a little skeptical, given how Walker’s been gutting the state, but it was great!  Other than extreme highway noise during the week (which we couldn’t hear Monday night due to the intense rain all night, couple inches at least), it’s an amazing park.  The camp sites are huge, and there’s a lot of space and trees between them.  We were on a cul de sac, spot 137, which was way up over the lake.

Little Sadie loves to go camping, rather than trudge along on her walks, she perks up and is trotting and sniffing like a pup.  And afterwards, does she snore up a storm.


This is the perfect time of year to get out.  Weather is cool, no bugs.



And we also took a quick jaunt down to Devil’s Lake State Park, and while the lake is beautiful, the campground is like a bare golf course — I cannot understand why anyone would camp there.  Mowed lawn, neighbors are right there, like camping in a big field. EEEEEUW.  Here’s the lake, with glacial rock piles along most of the edges:


I find it’s hard to pack up and come back to the unreal world… we seem to stay for an extra day.  I remember my father spending the winters planning the summer vacation, and now with the internet, it’s an addicting thing, but the resulting getaway is even better.


Next trip… back to Arkansas via Pere Marquette on the Mississippi?  Hell Creek State Park in Montana, a tour of the dams on the plains, via the Black Hills?  All of the above!

It’s National Dog Day!

August 26th, 2015


Little Sadie celebrates National Dog Day, and gives me a bit of whale-eye for daring to take her picture:


And to all the dogs I’ve loved before…

Ode to Summer…    November 26th, 2012


Saying good bye to Kady    November 22nd, 2014


Oh, it’s a sad day…    May 26th, 2010



And dear Katze:

Katze 2

And Elka…


And dear ol’ Maggie Mae:


And Bozo!!

My beautiful picture

Plantings in Red Wing

August 9th, 2015

20150809_102511_resizedThanks to Sheila in Frontenac who gave us TWO van loads of day lilies.  They’re in, looking kinda bent up and tired, they’ve had quite a journey, but they’re perking up and next year they’ll look like something, and the year after, even better.  The grass wasn’t coming in on the boulevard after the West Avenue redo, it looks like crap, so let’s see how the day lilies do.  To be covered with chips soon, we have lots of the left over from the West Avenue construction.  And on the other side, in the yard, in addition to the day lilies, I’ve added a bee balm and a few cone flowers.  Soon, the Little Free Library on the metal post, and I found the perfect browsing chair to chain to the post.  Before winter?

And speaking of plantings, we often have a picnic up on Memorial Bluff at the lower quarry, the beautiful newly refurbished area with huge stone benches overlooking the garbage burner.  They’d reopened it last year, but this year, it was clear most of the newly planted trees had died.  Tonight I saw there were new ones… GREAT!  But look, really, 6 of them are planted under the transmission line.  It’s bad enough that they put two big stone picnic benches under the transmission line, but TREES? How long will it be before our friends at Xcel Energy mow them down?




My clients have a tendency to hang around like bad habits — once awake to utility schemes, they take a bite and won’t let go.  I’ve been blessed with an active bunch, and today I woke up to another example.  Nancy “BOOM!” Prehn is one of my faves, she lives on top of the only natural gas underground storage dome in Minnesota, under about 10 square miles north of Waseca.  She singlehandedly got an EAW on how the gas company was handling water.  At the time, they were releasing water from wells onto their fields, and it wasn’t helping the corn and beans any.  Turns out it wasn’t seriously polluted, and the gas company had to build a water treatment facility and storage tanks at each well to contain the water, and then suck it out, bring it over to HQ and run it through the treatment system before releasing it.

Got Gas System.jpg

Nancy has a way of being ahead of the curve, and when she starts digging, look out.  Now she’s working on tax credits for those with utility infrastructure on their land, like a natural gas dome!  It’s needed for gas and oil pipelines too!

Here’s what she found today, from the 1979 legislative session, check Article 2, Section 20, a tax credit for landowners living under transmission lines — how did I not know this?

Chapter 303 HF1495

And it’s still law today:

Minn. Stat. 273.42

How much is this tax credit?  Well, it’s complicated… and there’s a ceiling, see the statute for specifics:

The amount of credit for which the property qualifies shall not exceed 20 percent of the total gross tax on the parcel prior to deduction of the state paid agricultural credit…

It was enacted during the last transmission build-out, circa 1979, and has been changed many times over the years:


(2012-3) 1925 c 306 s 3; 1949 c 554 s 3; 1978 c 658 s 4; 1979 c 303 art 2 s 20; 1980 c 607 art 10 s 3; 1Sp1981 c 1 art 2 s 15; 1982 c 523 art 16 s 1; 1Sp1985 c 14 art 4 s 70; 1Sp1986 c 1 art 4 s 24; 1987 c 268 art 6 s 35; 1Sp1989 c 1 art 2 s 11; 1990 c 604 art 3 s 22; 1Sp2001 c 5 art 3 s 44; 2003 c 127 art 5 s 21; 2014 c 275 art 1 s 90

Note this one that changed it from any “high voltage transmission line” as defined by then PPSA  116C.52, Subd. 3, to a high voltage transmission line “with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more”
which also happened in the Buy the Farm statute:

2003 c 127 art 5 s 21

Bottom line — it’s good people affected by transmission get a tax credit for their burden, but it’s bad that it’s not assessed to the ones that took that easement.  It should be assessed to utilities/energy companies, the ones causing it and benefiting from it, not the rest of us taxpayers who have to make up the difference for local governments who need the tax revenues.

TO DO:  We need to make this tax credit applicable to all energy infrastructure (Note I said “energy” and not “utility” because there’s a lot of infrastructure being built that is NOT utility. but oil companies, and those “transmission only” private purpose companies.) and to assess the entity that burdened the property for the amount of that tax credit.

cecil-and-lioness-brent-stapelkampPhoto by Brent Stapelkamp

Yes, this whole Cecil thing does bother me.  I’ve seen a lot of criticism of people posting about Cecil when there are so many other awful things going on in the world these days.  But it’s not binary. And it’s not about “hunting,” because dragging an elephant as bait to lure a protected animal out of its sanctuary, wounding it with a bow and arrow and not tracking it immediately and not ending its suffering until 40 hours later, that is not hunting. And there’s also an interest curve, things pop and wane.  There are trends though about those who are making public waves about this.

Another issue, think about Palmer’s choice when he learned that he’d injured and then killed a protected lion. His response was not to contact authorities and report the dead lion. Instead it was to behead and skin him and take those “trophies.” That moment he had a choice, he blew it. Since then, he’s hidden, sent out messages avoiding his responsibility, and not until the shitstorm hit did he acknowledge his actions. This is indicative of his moral compass and code, and consistent with prior acts of poaching and sexual harassment.

I’ve had some time now to consider what shows up in my computer… Of those of us who are commenting on Cecil, we can be concerned about many issues at once, we MUST be concerned about many issues at once.  Most of the people I’ve seen posting about Cecil are activist sorts, people also standing up for equal rights, those who worked for gay marriage, an end to police shootings and abuse, prosecution of bank fraud and rabid capitalism, sex trafficking, homelessness, essentially, demonstrating that we need to pay attention to all these issues for anything to change.  We can and will be concerned about many, many things.  Cecil will be high on the “interest curve” for a while and then we’ll be following the Ray Tensing trail, and then there’s the four Clean Line transmission proposals trying to steamroll their way through state and federal scrutiny. On the other hand, those who are not commenting about Cecil are the same ones not standing up about all things political, ethical, and illegal. I’m noticing the silence. Will watch this over time and see if this hypothesis holds!

The Science of why you are so upset about Cecil the Lion

Bottom line:

Small writes that “most humans are… not just ignorant of but indifferent to almost all of the species on the planet.” In fact, people are “biophobic” meaning they are “slightly to extremely negative towards the majority of species they encounter.”

My issue here is that this is such a blatant case of narcissism on parade, a demonstration of white male privilege in the extreme:


This guy is a privileged white male dentist who pays out more money than most of us make in a year to go around the world and kill beautiful rare animals and bring pieces of them home and display on his walls.   Oh, and he wants to convince us that he’s Putin II.  Oh, please…  urp… Well, then again, considering what we know of Putin, perhaps there are similarities.


As a part of his sentence, I’d like to see it include restitution of all he’s paid for this “hunting” to animal sanctuaries; that he must photograph in the wild each of the animals he’s listed as having killed, whether by his “hunting groups” or in criminal records (yes, go photograph a bear); that he face a public (and protected) public shaming; that he get a psych evaluation and follow the recommendation; that he lost his dentistry license for ethical breeches/unethical breaches.

That’s a start.

Here’s the Board of Dentistry’s Settlement regarding the sexual harassment claim against him in 2009 (note it is expressly not “Disciplinary Action”):

Walter Palmer_Agreement for Corrective Action – MN Board of Dentistry

And on NPR (I’d write that headline a bit different… “hunter?” … maybe just “Walt, call home!”):

U.S. Authorities Can’t Find Hunter Who Killed ‘Cecil the Lion’

Let’s keep on this guy… and let’s keep on all the other issues we care about, stop the Clean Line, all four of them, keep demonstrating at the Mall of America, jump up and with with glee as they shut down sand mines in the Driftless area, and run “Greenmark Solar” out of Red Wing!