Calling Gadahlski

(Original Almanac illustration: William Birawer/

Gadahlski refers to the garage door of the house I grew up in. The house was a modern rambler sitting on a hill in the pristine, well-educated community of St. Anthony Park. My parents, my sister, and I did whatever we could to fit into the mold of “the Park.” The house expressed this desire for perfection with its regularly mowed lawn, clipped hedges, and fresh paint. Even the flower and vegetable gardens were neat and orderly.

The Drive

(Illustration: Leann E. Johnson/

Not wanting to alarm my husband and infant son, in case they’ve fallen back asleep, I don’t call. I don’t even text. But I do take a picture with my camera-phone, because I need proof that I’ve done it, that I’m actually here: sitting in a 2005 Toyota Matrix, outside the Saint Anthony Park Library. This is incredible.

City Dumps: When "Away" Was Near

Joanne and her dad plotting their next trip to the dump. (Photo courtesy Joanne Englund)

To me, the rusty fifty-gallon steel barrel near the alley in the northeastern corner of our back yard had been there forever. It was where the wrapped-in-newspaper food scraps and other assorted discards were deposited. When I got tall enough to reach over the top, I was allowed to carry the matches and light the scary fire that daily burned the ragtag contents. Once the barrel got about half-full of ashes, Dad took it to the dump to empty it, and I got to go with him...

Kellogg and John Ireland

(Illustration: Leann Johnson/

My girlfriend lives in an apartment across the street from the Saint Paul Cathedral. She has a very Catholic upbringing that only shows when we get to fooling around on her bed with its view of the illuminated massive doors and dome of the church across the street. Then guilt kicks in and I wish there was a curtain to draw. More than once desire has been quashed and old morality triumphs over free love as I am sent packing. After my latest expulsion, I’m driving my economical four-cylinder Chevy II in a sour mood as I pass through the intersection of John Ireland Boulevard on Kellogg when a fast Pontiac Grand Prix roars through the red light and hits me.