The empty nest (Five by 8 – 9/22/10)

I have the day off today, which doesn’t really explain why I’m up early writing, does it? The boss gave me tickets to today’s Indians-Twins game at Hangover House. Any posts after this one today, are written by other people.


By now, thousands of people within the sound of my blog are probably suffering a bad case of empty nest syndrome. Maybe the last of your brood has gone off to college. Maybe someday they’ll come back home to live, but it’ll never be quite the same. I think about this as I watch the geese — they were just little critters a few months ago — get ready to leave the Twin Cities.

Dona Schwartz knows the feeling. She’s working on a photographic portrait project about empty nesters. “I am interested in this moment in time because I think it’s a significant transitional period in people’s lives,” she says. “I photograph parents in the vacated bedrooms their kids have left behind. Sometimes the bedrooms have been left as is, and sometimes parents repossess the space–both scenarios say a lot about the nature of the transition to life without children at home and the different ways parents approach it.”

Schwartz has raised six children and stepchildren; the last is almost ready to fly. Leading up to this point, she thought she’d enjoy the coming solitude. Now, she’s not so sure.

“One day I was overwhelmed by the teenage energy and drama (and angst) and I thought, ‘I’m tired of the transitions in teenagers’ lives! Adults go through transitions too and someone should pay attention to adults’ lives!’ she says. ‘An empty nest! That’s a transition I can relate to!’ It was a eureka moment and the project came into being. The project is called On the Nest and it has two parts. I have been photographing people who are expecting their first child in the space they have prepared for the child’s arrival, so part one is the transition to parenthood. Part two is empty nesters photographed in the vacated bedrooms of their children — parents who are now transitioning to life without day-to-day responsibility for the care of children — adults who are again on the threshold of a new identity and way of living.”

I didn’t take any pictures of my kids’ rooms (though I did start a blog to ruminate on the subject) until several years after they were gone, when I finally worked up enough courage to paint over all evidence that they were there.

If you’d like to be part of the project, contact her at


After the Senate gave up on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell yesterday, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken told the story of a four-hour show he, some country music stars, and some Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders did in a war-zone show in 2006:

It was a lengthy story, which prevented it from making the news.

Unfortunately, Talking Points Memo (it was the only site that made an embeddable copy of the speech), didn’t take the whole floor speech, which you can find here.

Minnesota’s senior senator, Amy Klobuchar, did not speak on the subject.

Meanwhile, the blog Baseball Crank counts the ways Democrats really didn’t want this issue to get a vote.


When Rep. Mark Buesgens was arrested for drunk driving the other day, was he really the former campaign chair for Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer? Or was there a cover-up of his status with the campaign? The Mn Publius blog has a letter from the Emmer campaign to state officials informing them of the change in leadership of the campaign. The letter was dated after Buesgens’ arrest and dates the change as happening before the arrest.

Eric Ostermeier at Smart Politics says Buesgens’ arrest probably won’t significantly harm his chance of winning re-election.


MPR’s Nancy Lebens is knocking it out of the park with her continuing series on the fiscal problems affecting Minnesota cities and towns. There’s more to the issue than just how it affects St. Paul and Minneapolis. Last week, she told us that the loved ones of people who die in the winter in Red Wing have to pay extra to have them buried. Today, she looks at the dousing of street lights in Brainerd and elsewhere. Dark streets are cities’ public declaration that they’re broke. Are they a core government service? In my dying New England hometown, the city shut off the streetlights on my elderly mother’s street. Her house has broken into twice since — once while she was home sleeping.


A man blames the Minnesota smoking ban for his home foreclosure. He made a living selling air filtration equipment to bars and restaurants.


A boy in Canada was planning to hold a garage sale on Saturday to sell his toys to pay for a headstone for his father’s grave. He won’t have to.


Jon Stewart explains why Obama has failed in Obama’s own words (may not be suitable for the workplace).


Less than two years after its emergence, the Tea Party has established itself as a potent political force. How do you see the Tea Party evolving after the current election season?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Women and the tea party movement.

Second hour: Reality TV and the people who watch it.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The United Nations: Does it still have a role in the world?

Second hour: A broadcast of the gubernatorial debate, recorded yesterday in St. Cloud.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: NPR political editor Ken Rudin.

Second hour: Why the U.N. often taps musicians, actors, and athletes .

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Hundreds of families in Isanti County are weeks or months away from losing their homes. The county may be among the hardest hit in what experts say is the coming second wave of foreclosures. Delinquencies are up even more than foreclosures; that could be a predictor of the changing geography of the next foreclosure wave

MPR’s Bob Kelleher says there are groups considering placing wind structures on Lake Superior’s north shore to take advantage of strong off-shore winds. There are communication companies that want to place additional cell towers to fill in the many gaps in coverage along the shore. But there are concerns that either of those structures could do a great deal of harm to birds following the shoreline on their fall migration south.

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