Thursday, January 29, 2009

Winter Carnival Snow Sculptures

Every January the city fathers have a celebration of ice and cold to distract the citizens from the ice and cold that permeates the environment. There has been a snow sculpture contest the last few years. This year the snow creations were done at the state fair grounds, a few blocks south of Larpenteur Avenue. Because the weather has softened some and the temperature reached into the low double figures above zero (12), I ventured out to see what had been created by the artist geniuses of the great northland. I was rewarded.

A snowy tree. Well formed and woodless. (Second prize winner).

Snowy mushrooms. Large and showy. Not very tasty.

Snowy dragon head. The body must be below ground. (Third prize winner)

Snowy castle. Like its cousin the sand castle, beautiful, but ephemeral.

I spent maybe fifteen minutes at the site. The sun was bright, but the wind was blowing and the windchill was below zero. My camera stopped working because of the cold and I went to find some warmth in my trusty Matrix parked on the street. There were some other hardy souls about, all bundled against the wind, and probably all native Minnesotans.

My tennis tidbit for the day. The Australian Open Tennis Tournament is reaching its final days. I watched Serena Williams win her semi-final match against Russian Elena Dementieva, who won the Olympic Gold Metal last summer. Serena is a beast. She hits the ball very hard and keeps it on the court most of the time, but the best part of her game is that she knows that she's going to win and then makes it happen. She is hugely confident; 6-3, 6-4, to get to play Marat Safin's little (? she's six feet tall) sister, Dinara, in the finals this weekend. I'll be playing some tennis myself, but without as large a crowd or with as much money at stake, at Fort Snelling Tennis Center. I'm hoping for low gravity days.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January in the Great State of Minnesota

In the Saintly City it's been below freezing continuously since sometime in December. But we still have some nice sunsets. This one was a few days ago and it was taken from a hill in Linwood Park. It has a kind of stark beauty.

We also have outdoor ice skating. This rink at Linwood Park is in use. The Prairie Princess is teaching youngsters to skate at a similar park in Minneapolis. She is using those expensive skills learned in her teen years at the Roseville Ice Arena. The outdoors ice won't last past the middle of February, but this week it seems like the winter, the ice, and the cold will go on until Hell freezes over.

My tennis reports are not up to date, but rest assured that I'm still keeping up my schedule of four doubles encounters every week. Today's bout was contested at Fort Snelling Tennis Center. They keep the place pretty chilly, but it was about five degrees outside, so it was better to be in the bubble. There was an excess amount of gravity today so I was not playing at my best, but the matches were competitive and best of all, no one fell down. I'm always suspicious of the variance of the gravitational field when I'm having an off day. Not many people buy this theory, but it's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

One Hundred Years Old

The young father in this photo was just 35 when this photo was taken on May 30, 1944. Today is his 100th birthday. He has been gone since 1976, but not forgotten. On the back of the photo, in the hand of his wife, and the mother of his two sons, was written, "On Tommy's 3rd Birthday. Thos. E. Miller" The boys, sometimes known as Peyeister and Pedoodle, other times as Tommy and Jimmy, seem secure, but distracted by something or someone off to their right. The older gentleman is holding a cigarette in his right hand. Cigarettes were a big part of his life and his undoing. But in 1944, he was looking pretty snazzy in his roguish hat. The family car (I assume) stands directly behind them. Was it a Ford? A Plymouth? Maybe Peyeister knows. The photo looks like it was taken at Richard Anderson's farm on Yellow River.

Happy birthday to the old guy and best wishes to all who remember him and especially those who carry some of his DNA.