Stories and Journeys

Winter musings

Welcome to the start of year three for Stories and Journeys. Welcome to the start of year eight of my retirement journey including Medicare plus supplement. Another reader has told me their take on Medicare via  Matthews H. writes, ".....UCare, UnitedHealth and the rest keep buying every media slot to brainwash the public. … It was Minnesota that got the Nixon Administration to approve Medicare HMOs, leading to 30 years of what is now 'Medicare Advantage.’”
Solstice. When I was founder/coordinator of Minnehaha Avenue Community Garden, there were several years when some of us gardeners would gather at Gandhi Mahal restaurant. We celebrated the return of light as the beginning of a new growing season. We told our stories of the recently completed season while sharing our visions for the upcoming season and, in the meantime, how we were surviving winter.  Last evening, Christmas Eve, I checked my Weather Guide Calender to see how many minutes of daylight we were supposed to have gained since Dec. 21. 
Christmas Eve Past. My brother and I are awakened by our parents. It's time to go to church for the midnight candlelight service. My favorite time during the service was when the lights were turned down. We would bring back the light by lighting each other's candles. 
Christmas Eve Present. I perform my candlelighting ritual.I remember the animals that have blessed my life, six cats and a Cocker Spaniel. I say their names. And I say the names of my brother, Richard Allen Hammen, and my parents, Ruth Mae Yount Hammen and Peter Henry Hammen III. I am very aware that I am the only one left out of that family that used to get up and travel to the midnight candlelight service.I'm experiencing a moment of grief at the loss of that experience. I go to sleep with music of the season playing on classical radio MPR.
And if you have read this far you have taken the plunge into the river(flow) of life experiences which is Stories and Journeys.
I first became aware of Louise, a Southwest Minneapolis resident, when she was hosting her radio show devoted to education matters on AM 950. After I retired in December of 2016, I started attending the monthly meetings of the Minneapolis Regional Retiree Council (AFL-CIO). I discovered that Louise was part of the MRRC leadership.  At one of those meetings, as a reader of the Southwest Connector, she outed me as the writer of Stories and Journeys. Recently, she showed up in a Star Tribune article as the designer of the Minneapolis flag when she was a Southwest High School student. And even more recently a writer of a Star Tribune opinion called for a re-design of the Minneapolis flag. I'm thinking I would be flying it if I knew Minneapolis had a flag. 
In the meantime, dear reader, did you know the Minneapolis had a flag? Have you ever seen it flown? Would you fly it? What are your thoughts? Tell yourself, tell others or tell me via
 While writing this column I learn that Listening Sessions on light rail trains and at select train stops are happening (1-8-24 through 1-12-24)  . I decide to go to a session at the Lake Street/Midtown Station. There I got to speak with Lesley Kandaras, Metro Transit General Manager, and Charlie Zelle, Met Council Chair. I have been a bus/train rider for a long time. I have never known Met Council/ Metro Transit leadership to do any thing like this. It seems like a really good idea. 
For now I'll just share my first impressions. I feel like Lesley is the "real deal" – like she is the right person in the right position at the right time. Even better she lives in Messenger territory. There is a good chance I made my points. I observed Lesley taking notes. She gave me copies of the revised Rider Code of Conduct. Charlie seemed to be enjoying being away from meetings and interacting with some of the people who make Metro Transit go – riders. Hopefully this listening session week is not a one and done. I suggested doing one when it isn't winter. Another one of my musings.
In gratitude always.
Donald L. Hammen is a longtime south Minneapolis resident, and serves on the All Elders United for Justice Board of Directors.


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