I promised an update on my landscaping and gardening project a while back so here it is. There’s a couple wheelbarrows worth of dirt left on my driveway but I moved 5.75 cubic yards of it into my backyard to even out some areas, re-seed with grass, and build up the corner garden.
Here is our beautiful Creeping Charlie crop in the corner garden before I spent an hour pulling it all by hand (there’s still plenty of it in the yard):
Here is the corner garden complete with same-height terraces, barely any plants (ten hostas and two coral bells, all not very healthy), and existing rocks laid out in a weird pattern. The rocks under the fence were put there by me last Summer to close the sizable gap left by the fence installation crew, one that our dog took advantage of twice.
My dirt project in the yard took five or six days in total. Of that time, 70% was the garden and 30% was on leveling the yard and re-seeding with grass seed (I’ve also watered the yard 20 or 30 times since laying seed). Check out the final result:
The pre-existing dirt was awful anyway so I added 25 wheelbarrows of fresh stuff on top. Yes, it took a very long time and I am plenty tired and sore. The hostas and coral bells have been moved to a new location in the newly formed tiers. I removed all the existing rock and reformed the rock boundaries, adding in many new ones from my grandpa’s farm in Hutchinson, Minnesota (the same source for all my under-fence rocks). It doesn’t show well in pictures but I picked some really awesome stones from the farm. There are many colors and types represented including some very sparkly granites. For plants, Beth and I made a trip to Ace Hardware and spent several hours last Saturday (and $200) planting them. The back row consists of four types of perennials. I don’t remember all the names but we planted them in order of height with the tallest in the middle and kept it symmetrical on each side. The front row are alternating pink and white petunias (annuals). The perennials required a bit more digging but, damn, those petunias required a lot more work! Each tiny plant needed eight inches of room all around so we were measuring and digging small holes for two hours. We bought two trays, totaling 100 plants, but probably only had room for 65. After that I had to get creative filling in some gaps between the other plants. How does it look?
Update: This is what the garden looked like a month after posting this. You, the reader, get to experience time travel and see the beautiful garden without the tedious weed-pulling and watering (although I do like the watering).
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Now for the maps, the other reason you’re here! Map 101 shows the Drunkest Cities in the United States. I don’t drink (shock, awe) but that doesn’t stop me from appreciating a good map. When I read an article recently about the drunkest cities in the country, however, there was no map included, just a lousy list. Lame. I input the list into Google Maps and created one. It wasn’t that hard (one wonders why the original author didn’t do it). The 20th Drunkest City is Corvallis, Oregon (home of Oregon State University). The 13th city is Missoula, Montana. You may have noticed, the other 18 cities in the top 20 are in one giant cluster in the Midwest.
Based on the Midwest cluster, I’ve created a close up for you, the near-sighted:
The study used survey responses and the density of bars to make the rankings but it is far from a scientific study. That being said, this unscientific study says that Wisconsin (and to a lesser extent, the Upper-Midwest) is full of drunks! Twelve of the twenty Drunkest Cities are in Wisconsin. Appleton is the most drunk on the list followed by neighboring cities, Oshkosh and Green Bay (home of the reviled Green Bay Packers). Perhaps these cities are so drunk because the Minnesota Vikings won the division last year! They’ll counter that the Packers won for several years before that but blah blah, can’t hear you…! There is only one Minnesotan city on the map, Mankato, home of Minnesota State University and the Minnesota Vikings training camp. Three cities very near the Minnesota border in Wisconsin and North Dakota also made the list; Fargo, ND (#5), Grand Forks, ND (#14), and La Crosse, WI (#6). Iowa and Nebraska also made the list with three cities total. Iowa City, IA is a college town as well.
In conclusion, college students and Wisconsinites, get your shit together, or, at a minimum, don’t drink and drive!
Maps 104A-D are of a local school district. I did a lot of research on various school districts last Winter before our house search began in the Spring. District 271 in Bloomington, Minnesota was one that I found to be especially interesting. It’s one of the larger districts in the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area but what I found most interesting was their district map (yes, I looked at a lot of district maps). The Bloomington District contains ten elementary schools (K-5), three middle schools (6-8), and two rival high schools (9-12). When looking at the district map, I noticed there were certain streets where the kids went to different elementary or middle schools than their close neighbors. To demonstrate what I mean, I have created four maps.
There are ten elementary schools in the district marked by purple dots on the map. Nine of the schools serve colored zones while the tenth is a district-wide school (at the very center of the map in Zone D). Right away you might notice that Zones B and E are not fully contiguous. Zone A is really spread out and barely so. The school in Zone B is in the center of it’s three light green neighborhoods but there are kids in Zones C and D that live closer than some of its own students. Zone E is also split into multiple areas with a small gap created by B. The schools in most of the zones aren’t exactly centrally-located. I understand there are many factors potentially causing this. The map shows nothing of the population, population density, residential areas vs. commercial, etc. There are also large empty spaces in E, F, G, and I along the Minnesota River, the Southern border of the District.
Kids from the ten elementary schools split up into three middle schools, again represented by purple dots. Zone A has a large area jutting into the space occupied by Zone B causing a very narrow connection in the middle. Zone C looks mostly normal and the school is more centrally located than the others. Because there are three middle schools and ten elementary schools, students from the same elementary may end up being split from their friends during sixth through eighth grades or even longer.
Three middle schools send their students to just two high schools (and big rivals at that), Thomas Jefferson High and John F. Kennedy High. Kids from the second middle school (Zone B on Map 104B) go to either high school based on where they live while everyone in the other two middle schools stay together. I find it a little strange that the divided middle school sends students to rival high schools. There was nothing like that in my school district growing up. There were seven elementary schools in the Hopkins School District so only one of those schools split students between two junior high schools and then everyone went to one high school.
I made each of the four maps myself but different versions of the first three do exist on the School District’s website as well as the State’s site (which I used in making my versions). This fourth map, however, represents some of the divides I have mentioned. Households in Zone A above send their kids to the same elementary school as those in Zones B, C, and D. For middle school, however, A is alone, B and C are together, and D goes to the third. B then joins A for high school at Jefferson and is split from C, which joins D at Kennedy. Zones E, F, G, and H go to the same elementary school. E goes to the first middle school, F and G go to the second, and H goes to the third. E and F are Jefferson while G and H are Kennedy. Zones I and J share K-8 and then never see each other again except on opposing sidelines at sporting events. There are a couple more interesting splits in the district but I think I’ve demonstrated my point. I hope I’m not the only one that finds this strange. Maybe there are a lot of school districts like Bloomington across the country, it’s just vastly different from my experience.
We didn’t end up buying a house in Bloomington but my cousins live there. My cousin Sarah is graduating from Jefferson this week, in fact. Congratulations Sarah! In addition to family, I’ve worked with District 271 Alumni in the past so if any of you are reading this, please reach out with comments about what it was like growing up in Bloomington!
Bonus Map Link: Domestic Net Migration