Oct 24, 2016

Two Years Gone

It's hard to believe that it has been two years since we moved into our Red Wing home. I don't think a day goes by when Elvy and I don't have some kind of conversation about our old home. We were there for 18 years, twice as long as either of us lived in any other place. We loved that home and, especially, we loved Savage Lake. Still do, even though we haven't seen the lake in 2 years we still think about it often. Our grandson grew up in that backyard and canoeing on that lake. It will always be a part of us.
I ended up writing about that today because my Window's screen saver glitched and started cycling through my "yard" folder from the want ads I'd created for selling our home in 2014. You wouldn't believe all of the memories that flooded into my consciousness!
I wish someone in the neighborhood would take over this blog because I'd like to keep up on the status of Savage Lake. I know Minnesotans think our little lake "isn't a real lake," but I wish I could prove that you are wrong. That lake has been there longer than Europeans have been on this continent and it is a treasure, no matter how miserably the City of Little Canada, MNDOT, the Watershed District, and the DNR treat it. I wouldn't be surprised to find that Savage Lake is restored to its past beauty long after humans have vanished from the planet.

Dec 4, 2015

Heiruspecs: On the Ground Official Video

More of a place marker than anything, but part of this Heiruspecs' music video was recorded in our Little Canada house. If you were ever in our old (1885 foundation) home, you might recognize Elvy's basement studio, the basement family room, our living room, and the kitchen.

The family room, where the drums were filmed for this video, was also a drum booth when I recorded a couple of bands in the house about ten years ago. There was, at one time, a 12-in, 3-out tieline run from the attic studio to the basement for that purpose. I also had an 8-in, 3-out tieline into the living room (where some of the vocals and the bass was filmed). Two separate several-day long recording sessions (one for Jack Smith and the Persuaders' CD and one for "The Las Vegas Wedding Blues" soundtrack --a never completed film score for a movie that died stillborn) were all it took to convince me I'm too old and cranky to put up with musicians in my home. I pulled the tie lines and restricted the rest of my recording activity in the house to solo instruments and voice-over work (all of the MMSC motorcycle safety PSAs from 2002 until 2012, for example) in the attic isolation booth. The "studio" area in the attic contained my control area and CDs for the Roseville String Ensemble, CDs and audio-for-video for dozens of live Bethel College orchestra performances, the A-V production of Motorcycling Minnesota television programs, and a collection of live pop band recording mixes came out of that attic studio.
As part of my marketing for the house, I compiled a collection of pictures taken over the past decade and posted it on YouTube (see below). The soundtrack, by David Santistevan, was mixed and mastered in my studio. If you are patient, you can see some half-decent pictures of the studio being built and how it was used. There is at least one really great professional shot of the studio area after it had been emptied out, when the place was up for sale, and after we were moved out.

Mar 21, 2015

Wrapping It Up

We should be closing on the house next Tuesday. Google will keep this site open for a long time, so I have no reason to delete it. If any Savage Lake property owner wants to take it over, just contact me and I'll transfer ownership. Otherwise, it will stay just like it is for . . . years if not decades.

Dec 9, 2014

Saying Goodbye

2014-12-06 (1) 18 years ago, when we moved from Colorado to Minnesota, we had a pipedream that we’d find our “cabin in the north” with a lake, a big yard, privacy, and great neighbors. 17 years ago, we lucked into being the first buyers to visit our house on Lake Shore Avenue and we made an offer on the spot. We have worked on turning our little house into a more functional place for work, art, and living space for 17 years. We turned a minor disaster of a yard into what our friends call “a private park.” More than anything, Savage Lake has been a cornerstone of our life in Little Canada.

Every once in a while, I get an anonymous visitor (always anonymous) who takes me to task for imagining that our little ‘'watershed’' is a real lake. My last such visitor said, “The attention your blog is bringing to this nasty little ditch is drawing away funds and efforts from real lakes like Gervais and Round Lakes and our city parks. We'll be glad to see you gone and I hope no one takes over your pathetic blog. Savage is nothing more than a catch basin for freeway runoff as it should be.”

Wow! This is the third or fourth time I’ve had a response like this to the blog and my claim that this is a lake that should be valued and appreciated. Regardless, we’ve loved the wildlife on and around the lake. My wife regenerated her love of bird watching on Savage Lake’s banks. We’ve taken hundreds of canoe rides around the lake and the island. Our grandson grew up playing on the dock we built together and practicing catch-and-release with the frogs, turtles, and toads he found on our beach.

We’ve had a wedding, a college graduation party, several winter solstice parties, infamous sledding parties, a retirement party and celebrated Little Canada days with dozens of friends and family with the lake as the beautiful backdrop. We’ve barbequed steaks, hot dogs, hamburgers, smores, and all sorts of hillbilly-gourmet meals on our lake shore firepit and spent hundreds of hours talking into the night, enjoying the fire and the view.

My ex-neighbor and friend, John Bibeau, and I canoed the lake with a few hundred gallons of diluted herbicide to fight off the total invasion of the lake with water lilies and it worked. We were canoeing this year all the way into August with enough clear water to make the ride interesting. There are even some signs that some small fish are making a comeback after the school’s pollution runoff killed off the lake several years ago.

Rocky Waite is petitioning MNDOT and the mostly-useless DNR to dredge the silt MNDOT’s idiot freeway entrance drainage siphoned into the northeast corner of the lake. He’ll need backup from lakeshore owners or the city council will be as absent from this argument as they have been on every Savage Lake issue for the last 17 years, except the highly-profitable and unsupportable goose roundup.

Our new Red Wing neighborhood is quiet and after 17 years of fighting the noise pollution from I35E, that is an amazing benefit to having left the Cities. Nights are dark, since we’re far enough from the city and Cities to have left the light pollution. The I35E noise barrier will will help, a little, when it is finally installed in 2015, but MNDOT demonstrated its usual incompetence by cutting down all of the lakeshore trees that would have provided noise absorption was disappointing. Not surprising, but disappointing. The neighborhood support for the noise barriers was one of the high points, for us, in our Little Canada civic life. MNDOT and the DNR expected about five people to show up and I think there were at least fifty people in the room at one time at that meeting.
Gardens (84)
I can’t walk down to our beach with being flooded with memories of days and nights spent on Savage Lake. Now that we are all but moved into our new home in Red Wing, coming back to Little Canada is bittersweet. My grandson went from being a toddler to a teenager in our backyard. From the dock to the landscaping to the stairs and handrails and the gardens, we can point to all of the things we built and planted together (most of which he doesn’t remember) and enjoyed as a family for years afterwards. When I loaded up the kayak and canoe for Red Wing, it was a sad moment to realize we would never make a lap around Savage Lake and the island to put a fine ending on a beautiful spring, summer, or fall day. I’ve had those two boats for almost 30 years, but they saw more use in Savage Lake than any other place we’ve lived.
05-04 Wolf launching 2

We’ve lived in Little Canada longer than any place in our lives and no matter who owns our house here, in the future, it will always seem like “home.” Our Little Canada neighbors have been the most generous, most tolerant, most friendly, most helpful friends imaginable. We won’t miss the freeway noise or the Harley’s blasting around our corner on Lake Shore Ave, but we will miss this community no matter how much Red Wing or the future has to offer.

Nov 4, 2014

Two Pre-Election Lake Issues

After talking with City Council candidate and best-neighbor-in-history, Rocky Waite, yesterday, I learned there are two issues up for grabs concerning our abused lake. First is an issue Rocky has been working on for a couple of years; renaming the lake to something less racially abusive. Rocky has collected enough city and lake shore owner names to petition the state to rename the lake, but the petition has stalled in the state bureaucracy. The proposed name for our lake would be "M├ętis Lake," obviously substantially less racist than the current name. According to a brief conversation my wife and I had with our state representative, Jason Isaacson, there are a couple of missing hoops needed for the renaming proposal to be properly presented to whoever the Powers That Be might be for this to happen. According to Rocky, the petition is all the state needs to get moving on this issue. There is, apparently, some resistance to making this harmless, historically accurate, and politically simple change and it's probably up to lake shore owners to get it done. Rocky can't do this one by himself.

The second issue is more of the usual lame crap from the perfectly useless and massively bureaucratic inept and inert bozos from the DNR. MNDOT has, apparently, agreed to dredge up "some" of the freeway silt deposited by their poorly designed southbound freeway entrance drainage (the "island" created on the northeast corner of the west lake). The DNR refuses to grant MNDOT permission to do that work more than a few feet into the lake. As usual, the DNR is claiming authority to prevent action while doing its best to ignore any responsibility for doing nothing to protect our natural resources. This has to be the perfect situation for a bureaucrat, but is once again proves that the DNR would be the easiest place for the state to save billions of taxpayer dollars. If the whole department were eliminated, it might be decades before any of us noticed. Even a DNR simpleton should recognize that ALL of the silt dumped into the lake by the freeway drain should be removed at this opportunity. Once the noise barrier is constructed, the lake will be inaccessible to the kind of equipment required to dredge the lake. Not only should the northeast side of the lake be dredged, but the southeast side has also been improperly used as a catch-basin for the freeway and should be dredged, too.

Whoever we elect today for city council ought to be on board with getting the damage to our lake undone. For the hundreds of residents affected by Savage Lake, there are few issues more pressing.

Oct 31, 2014

What A Concept

We’ve all received a trash barrel full of political crap this season. The Koch brothers are buying as many votes as Faux News will allow and even our local state representative race is being financed by those pure evil corporate welfare queens. I’m at the point where I go straight from my mailbox to the recycling can and bring practically nothing into the house. I’m really looking forward to November 3.

Today, there was an exception. Christian Torkelson’s Little Canada To-Do list in his “Things I’ve Heard from Residents” was a breath of fresh air. I haven’t seen anything that optimistic or ambitious regarding the city of Little Canada since Matt Anderson was on the council. I suspect we won’t be city residents long enough to see any of this great stuff proposed in the council, but I really hope a good bit of it happens. This is a terrific town and it deserves to be as well represented and regarded as Mr. Torkelson’s list indicates. No matter who wins, Christian has put his finger on the exact right list of critical items to be dealt with:


Oct 18, 2014

The Answers

10/14/2014 I sent the following email to the seven candidates for Little Canada city council:
“I manage a Little Canada-based blog, http://savagelake.blogspot.com/, that mostly comments on the city, county, and state activities that affect Savage Lake. In the past, the city council has been marginally supportive of lake shore residents; allowing the Watershed District to lower our lake level to the point that invasive plant species took over the surface of the lake, allowing Roseville School District to dump vehicle cleaning chemicals into the lake killing off most of the lake's life, ignoring Gopher Electronics' parking lot runoff and the freeway ramp runoff that practically filled the northeast end of the lake's west side with sediment, and ignoring the MNDOT freeway design that filled the southeast end of the lake with even more sediment. I'd like to ask all of the Little Canada city council candidates the following question and post your responses on the Savage Lake blogsite:
"Savage Lake has received fairly brutal treatment from the Ramsey County Watershed District, the DNR, MNDOT, and our city government. What would you do to help lakeshore residents to protect and improve this disrespected natural resource?"

The answers were as follows (in the order received):

From: Kevin Keenan [mailto:kkeenan123@comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 3:03 PM
Subject: Little Canada City Council Question

Thomas - I definitely share your frustration. Myself and my brother own lakeshore on Gervais lake and we have many times had to deal with the same issues. We have had a ton of problems with the lake levels. I love to use and enjoy the lake as I know most of your neighbors do. You can be assured that if I'm elected any topic regarding lake (water) quality that comes directly to me or comes from city staff will have my full attention. I know Bev Scalze personally and I would insure she is part of the solution along with MNDOT, the DNR,  and Ramsey Watershed. I am a 45 year resident of LC and I will be a voice for my fellow neighbors. I am a Captain on the Little Canada Fire Department and I have been serving our community for 20 years in that capacity and look forward to digging in my heals even more if elected on Nov. 4th.

Thanks for the opportunity! 
Kevin Keenan

From: Christian Torkelson [mailto:christian.torkelson@gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 3:13 PM
Subject: Re: Little Canada City Council Question

Thanks Thomas for sending me this email.

I have more to write on this issue, and will work on putting together a full response within the next few days.

But the long and short of it in quick response form is this:
The first problem was putting a highway through a lake, the second was doing it poorly from a sound design and drainage perspective, and the third problem is that I think a lot of folks have simply written the lake off at this point.

I think the biggest thing homeowners on the lake want to see (I spoke with a resident on Lake Shore Ave who helps out with the local Boy/Cub Scouts Troop) is keeping pollutants out of it, and making sure the levels don't continue to drop. After that we can look to addressing sound barrier issues and invasive species removal.

I have some friends at the U of M who have earned or are pursuing degrees in the environmental sciences and natural resources management areas. I know that we could bring in some top notch students to evaluate the Lake and present their findings and recommendations for action with little to no cost. I'm inclined to pursue that path if we aren't seeing concrete recommendations from folks at the Soil and Water Conservation Board. Incidentally I'd be curious to know what your experiences have been in working with those folks?

Finally we can leverage our State Senator and State Representative. I've had the opportunity to spend a lot of time working with Rep. Isaacson at the State House, I know he would be receptive to carrying the ball forward on this with folks at the DNR and elsewhere (MNPCA perhaps?) I'd bet Sen. Scalze would as well. And as much as I hate to say it, often times its easy to ignore the Joe Six Packs out there, but not so much sitting House or Senate member, and that is why we need to use them. I'd bet they might be able shake something loose that you or I might not.

Finally I'd hope that we could overcome maybe some apathy folks have toward the lake. I think simply getting folks (outside of the immediate vicinity) to care about it again will be the biggest challenge. As a council member you can expect me to push a perspective that considers keeping a clean environment and working on any remediation measures to fix problems that we have caused. I think a clean healthy environment promotes neighborhood health and also does good things for local property values.

From: Rocky Waite [mailto:rock2651@comcast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 3:54 PM
Subject: Re: Little Canada City Council Question

I will keep doing what I have been doing.  I have gotten the DNR and DOT out to Savage Lake and it will be dredged this Fall.  I will work on the Southeast area next.  I have met with  the DNR regarding the historical lake levels and I am waiting for a decision at this time.  I have been working on improving Savage Lake for many years and will continue until it is deemed to be a "Lake " again.

Rocky Waite

From: Jeff Hdflooring [mailto:handdflooringinc@yahoo.com]
Sent: Tuesday, October 14, 2014 10:25 PM
Subject: Re: Little Canada City Council Question

My name is Jeff Heikke and I am an advocate for clean water ways and lakes within our city. I live on a water way that connects Gervais Mills park and lake Gervais"I see on a daily bases the sediment oils and other contaminants that stream through and into beautiful Lake Gervais. As for Savage Lake I would start by eliminating the contaminated run off into the lake. Via storm drains rain gardens Etc, I would also like to see us strengthen our city ordinances regarding our water ways and construction practices around them. Finally lets get some environmental minds together and come up with some long term viable solutions to get the lake quality back to where it should be. I am smart enough to know that I know very little in this field, But I am willing to listen, learn and do what is best for the lake. In turn doing what is best for Little Canada. No Little Canada resident should feel less importarrt. than another just like no Little Canada issues should be addressed with less urgency based on its complexity. I cannot guarantee a fast solution but I will guarantee my full efforts until the problem is solved.

Thank you
Jeff Heikke

From: Andrew Henderson [mailto:hendersonforcitycouncil@gmail.com]
Sent: Sunday, October 19, 2014 4:12 PM
Subject: Re: Little Canada City Council Question
Mr. Day,

I apologize for the late reply. I have had to give a few lectures at different Universities throughout the state this week. Please except my apology.

My answer to this is pretty simple; If elected you and your neighbors will be my bosses. My core belief is that people are in charge of the government, and I fully intend to remain true to that belief. I would work as hard as possible to achieve the goals that you and community have set for me. As you have the right to petition your government for a redress of grievances, this seems like a major one to me.

As a person that values the environment, I understand your concern. I want what is best for the city and the people that reside here. It seems like it would be pretty easy, expectable by community standards, and just plain common sense to create an ordnance against dumping chemicals into wetlands and bodies of water if one does not exist or if there is a loophole in state law. If there is already an ordnance or law in existence on this issue, it should have a higher priority in enforcement.

Thank you for the question, I hope it gave you a better understanding of my view on this issue.

Andrew J Henderson