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Well, here it comes, I thought, with a fist of grief and stress smacking into my gut. The hospice nurse was on the phone, telling me I should probably come down. My sister Barb needs someone with her round the clock now. I'm that someone. There is no-one else. Barb never married, never had kids. She lives alone in a small, subsidized apartment for disabled people in the Twin Cities. Well, alone, except for Oliver, a young gray cat with striking yellow-orange eyes. And, soon, me, sleeping on her slippery white sofa with sheets I brought from home.
Fans of the Kensington Runestone may be tickled to learn that this century-old mystery will be featured in a Science Channel series called "America's Lost Vikings." The show's six episodes showcase a search for Viking travels in North America. The first episode, which aired last Sunday, focused on L'Anse aux Meadows in Canada's island of Newfoundland, the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America. It's available for free online on the channel's website.
In Woodland Elementary School on Valentine's Day, young Cupids knock on class doors. It's "Cupi-gram" time, and the messengers deliver affectionate or silly cards and gifts to students and teachers. What might seem like merely a fun way to celebrate the day also has a more serious purpose. The Cupi-grams are purchased by students, parents and teachers, and the money they raise goes to the Woodland Caring Kids Fund to help classmates.
When the Minnesota Opera last sent a teaching artist to Alexandria public schools several years ago, so many children trooped onto stage for one scene that the orchestra had to play the entrance music four times. Some of those children are now students at Alexandria Area High School and took to the stage once again to perform "La Traviata" on Sunday with opera members, said orchestra teacher Brad Lambrecht.
School children received free eye screenings and dental care recently, thanks to local volunteers. On Wednesday, Jan. 30, the coldest day in years, Dean Anderson Dentistry in Alexandria saw 11 teenagers from the high school, said patient care coordinator Liz Greene. It was the day scheduled for Give Kids a Smile, a day to provide free dental care for children, and 12 teenagers had signed up.
Kay Horntvedt's journal entry for Friday, Feb. 1, begins like this: "Thank you, Lord, for this day and the early morning quiet. No wind today. The winter white frozen lake laced in with bare dark seeking branches, red squirrels in slumber. All is peaceful. I love you Lord and I lift my voice to worship you with all my soul." For close to 20 years, Horntvedt has kept a prayer journal. "It's almost like a dialogue between myself and God," said the Alexandria resident. "Sometimes I write a letter; sometimes I have a dialogue where he's talking to me and I'm talking to him."
Minnesotans can now start filing income taxes, since Monday, Jan. 28, was the day filing season began for state and federal taxes. This year, taxpayers might have to wait longer for refunds. Refund fraud attempts are on the rise, so refunds may take longer than in the past, the Minnesota Department of Revenue said in a news release. It urged taxpayers not to spend refunds until they see the money in their bank accounts. Filers can track their refund by using the department's Where's My Refund? System online.
Maybe it was the regular treats that led a black lab named Midnight to the home of an elderly Alexandria woman on Monday. Or maybe the dog just sensed that something was wrong. Midnight's owner, Tim Curfman, said he was bringing out his garbage cans at about 10:30 a.m. Monday when the dog trotted over to visit their neighbor. A winter storm had just moved through, dropping a few inches of snow, and the temperature was about zero. Maybe Midnight was hoping for treats. However, after just a few moments, the dog was back. She looked at Curfman.
At least one local business has capitalized on the bitter cold. In a Facebook video that has drawn more than 37,000 views as of 2;30 p.m. Wednesday, Patrick Sieve, third-generation owner of Travelers Inn Restaurant, dons a gray hoodie and a New Jersey accent to promise discounts based on actual air temperature. "How ya doin'? How ya doin'?" Sieve says in the video that got airtime on a St. Cloud radio station Wednesday morning. "Say listen, here's what we're doin' down at Travelers Inn this week, OK?"
For two days, it was too cold for kids to go to school. Too cold to skate at Noonan Park. Businesses closed early, or didn't open at all. Tractors wouldn't start. The mail didn't go. Call it the Great January Freeze of 2019, the week that bitter winds and brutal temperatures kept all but the hardiest Minnesotans indoors. Raw air temperatures dropped to at least 30 below zero overnight, while winds made it feel closer to 60 below. Even daylight didn't bring much relief, as temperatures dropped under 20 below during the day Tuesday and remained under that mark until Thursday .