Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The time of outdoor skating

Although I have yet to pull on skates, I have noticed that outdoor ice is available. They've begun to flood an area for a rink at Linwood. The ice is still pretty rough, but it probably will get better in the next couple of weeks. First we have to live through another storm - rain, sleet and snow are all predicted in the next two days, so the ice will have to wait a while before it gets better.

The end of 2010 is just two days away. It's been a good year in many respects and it's sad to see it go, but I think 2011 has prospects. Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's still December

It warmed to 34 degrees today and it felt balmy, not Florida balmy, but a nice respite from our recent December routine.  The days are getting longer.

It was nice enough that I spent quite a bit of time outside. The sun was shining much of the day and I watched some of my fellow citizens continue to shovel themselves out of the pile of snow that engulfs us. The photo is a morning shot of some trees at Linwood Park with a deep blue sky behind them.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Adventure by the falls

It was a cold morning and I decided to work off some of the Christmas goodies that I've been consuming. A walk in the cold seemed like a good remedy for whatever was ailing me. About 10:30 I went to find a snowbound bench to compete with Santini's Florida bench. This one at Linwood Park was alluring and although not inviting as a place to sit, it was a good illustration of the state of park benches here on the tundra.

As luck would have it, this afternoon the Prairie Princess was in the mood for a trek over by Minnehaha Falls. Some of her fellow workers from Prairie Restorations were doing some work on the brush below the falls, mostly killing and burning buck thorn. We ventured down the (closed) steps to the lower level of the stream, below the falls. The winter view of the ice-covered falls is always dramatic and pretty in its own frigid way. We were not the only foolhardy ones to dare to get closer to the big icicles. PP for scale.

She suggested that we get a little closer to the falls and see what was behind the ice. As a former dare devil, I was easily convinced, so we climbed the fence and followed the path along the creek and up the side hill behind the falls.  This is PP behind the falls, touching the frozen icicles.  The water is still flowing, but seems to be flowing through a pipe made of ice.

This is the view from under the falls back towards the spot where the first shot was taken.  Then we were standing near the fence in the distance, to the left of the bridge.  The icicles make a nice frame for the photo.

Then we finished the round trip behind the falls. This is PP just before she scrambled down the icy slope to get back to the level of the stream. The jaunt was interesting and just dangerous enough to make the day a nice adventure.

We continued down the creek, looking for the workers who were clearing the buck thorn from the banks. On the way, we stopped to get a wintry photo of Minnehaha Creek. It was a bright day and about 20 degrees, and several people we met remarked that it was "a beautiful day", one going so far as to call it "perfect." I'd say it was as nice a day as you can expect on the 27th of December in this part of the world. PP for scale.

We did eventually find the Prairie Restoration crew - Jesse and several Steve's were chainsawing and burning the buck thorn that they were downing. We watched a while and then left them to their labor.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas 2010

It was a good Christmas. I spent Christmas Eve with the Moohoo clan and this morning they came here for brunch. Unky Herb and the Prairie Princess were back from southern Minnesota, and we had six at the table. We ate well, but maybe not as healthily as we might, but it was tasty and there were lots of helpers to get the food to the table. We opened our presents and chatted about the world and the surprising types of invasive species attacking the Minnesota landscape. Who knew that earthworms are not native to this continent and that they are a real threat to our native forests? I guess we all know now. Don't throw your old bait away in the forest.

The group for today, not included the Tousan who was snapping the picture. Everyone was well fed and pretty chipper when they left the house on Fairmount.

Just to remind everyone that December has been a record month for snowfall in the Twin Cities. There were about six more inches yesterday.  There has been more snow this month than any previous December in recorded history here - 33.4 inches. The sidewalks in St Paul look like this. And the streets are lined with whitish walls of snow. More is likely on the way next week, too, according to the cheery weather creatures. The masochists.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ninety-seven today

Since today is my mom's 97th birthday, I scanned in a few of my oldest photos and am posting them to remember her life. Scanning technology is much better than when I first tried to make duplicates of these photos in the 1990's. Then I tried to take photos of the photos in sunlight. It wasn't easy and filled with pitfalls, bad focus, uneven lighting, etc.

This is a previously unposted photo of Lillie Anderson in about 1918 in the yard at her parents farm near Little Yellow Lake in northern Wisconsin. It now seems an odd part of the USA to have a farm, but probably was better than parts of Scandinavia where her parents grew up. I think she was about four, judging from the photo and my gut feelings about children's growth.

Another previously unposted photo. This is very likely 1914 and is taken on the farm. It's actually a postcard with a note from Lillie's dad, Richard, to his brother, Conrad, who was a barber in Minneapolis at the time. The note was written in pencil, without a stamp and dated 5/8/15. The note says the photo is with his oldest daughter, and that they also have another daughter two months old. That would be Leona. Left to right: Hansine, Lillie, and Richard Anderson.

A photo of the Anderson farm house and two autos. The farm is called Dick's Ranch on the reverse side of the photo and is dated Nov. 3, 1912. The house changed quite a lot by the time I was born in 1942.

A 1937 photo of Lillie and her younger sister, Louise, on the home place. Lillie was 23, Louise about 18, I think.  They both are holding bouquets of flowers, so it was some special event, I know not what.

In other news, the solstice came and went and the days are beginning to lengthen again. I do have an ice dam on my roof which is causing some concern, but Unky Herb and I have used our roof rake to remove a few inches of the white stuff on top of the ice and now are hoping that some warm weather will help rid us of the ice that remains. I guess that the 22 inches of snow that we got last week and the extra 4 or 5 the last few days took us past some critical point.

No tennis today, but that gives me a chance to think about Christmas preparations.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's almost winter

The autumn is almost done. Two more days and we're into winter. I went out to walk around this afternoon in pretty good sunshine, although it was after three and the sun was very low in the sky.

For any who may be lonesome for snow banks and all things winter, I have this photo of the street in front of my house.

The snow plows were out again to try to widen the streets and get them ready for the next snow event. For the second time since the big storm, they pushed back the street snow into the shoveled out walk and forced more labor from many of the citizens of the Capitol City. The corners of the blocks where the access to the streets had been cleared are again clogged. We're having some fun here in the north country.

Yesterday's tennis was odd. Jerry and I lost to Pat and Bob 2-6, 6-1, 1-6 - three lopsided sets. To be fair, Jerry and I were fatigued and playing barely adequate tennis the first and third sets, but managed to get it together for one set at least. It was good to be able to play and I am happy to still be doing it.

Incidentally, the two bikes that I previously noted as snowed in on St Albans and Grand have been retrieved from the snow banks.  Loved once again.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Moving towards the solstice

The winter solstice is less than a week away and it feels like winter has been here for quite a while already. The city streets are passable now, but narrowed and the tall piles of snow make entering traffic at intersections to be harrowing. But Christmas is soon and the wheels of commerce keep turning, so there are always people out and about.

When there is no color outside, except white and the dark of tree trunks and traffic dirt, it's comforting to go to the conservatory for the winter poinsettia show. There are reds and pinks and a reflecting pool filled with Asian carp to view. The room is also humid enough to keep the plants alive and a reminder that summer will return to these parts. The conservatory closes at four p.m., just before the sun starts to go down. I think I'll be visiting again soon, just for the chance to see live, healthy plants.

The slide scanning project uncovered this photo of Superman when he was a mere lad. His attention seems drawn to something to the right of the photographer. Maybe it was his favorite movie showing on a screen - "The Black Stallion" or perhaps "Star Wars." It was 1983.

There was tennis yesterday afternoon, and more tonight at Wooddale. I have heard that the tennis dome at Reed Sweatt, the old Nicollet tennis center, suffered the same fate as the Minneapolis Metrodome - collapse. I think it will be easier to re-inflate the tennis dome, because it is considerably smaller, but I wouldn't have wanted to be in either place when the roof began to fall. The Fort Snelling tennis dome survived the snow and Wooddale is a normal building, so my tennis venues remain available for play. Jerry and the hard core girls are the participants tonight.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Blizzard of the Decade Ends

The snow came hard and long and ended last night. The official snowfall made it the most snow in one storm since 1991, nineteen years ago. My own depth gauge is a yard stick stuck in the snow above a previously snowless sidewalk. My gauge said 22 inches. I took a picture of the gauge in service.

I shoveled for a while this morning while waiting for Unky Herb to get here. After he arrived the snow removal went a lot faster. The Prairie Princess joined us and we managed to get the surfaces cleared by about 12:30. The street in front of the house hadn't been plowed yet, and if it has been since, it was done inadequately, because the city declared a second snow emergency beginning about now. After we finished the sidewalks UH and PP sat in the street to have their photo taken. You can judge for yourself the condition of the street. Lumpy?

In celebration of a job completed, PP made a snow angel in the back yard.

And UH flopped in the snow near by. It was nice to be able to get around freely again.

It felt so good to be done that we had a trek over to Kowalski's to buy some tasty vittles. The temp was still a little above zero, so the walk was toasty enough. The only problems were the areas of sidewalks that have yet to be cleared, including a long stretch on Grand Avenue where it crosses Ayd Mill Road. That is city property and they are busy with the streets and therefore the sidewalks will have to wait. We bought Almond Breeze and a nice variety of soup at the store.

And I played USTA tennis tonight at Wooddale. It was a close match, but I was able to keep my losing streak intact, Michelle and I lost 4-6, 7-5, 1-0. The other doubles tandems on my team won so the team overall won the match. It's Jerry's team and he and Becky won a close one to sew up the win. It was fun, but fatigue started to settle in near the end.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

They closed the airport down

The Prairie Princess and I are snowbound. The last I had heard the snowfall amount in St Paul was something over 15 inches and still snowing. Unky Herb is cooped up in his friend's place in Edina, unavailable to wield a shovel. The roads should be avoided. PP and I shoveled for a while and although we cleared most of the apron behind the garage, it is again impassable. We also helped several stalled and stuck autos off Chatsworth Avenue to parking spots or to St Clair, a through street. There were quite a few folks helping with shovels and brute force, pushing the autos along to a safe place. It's great how people will join in to help people with snowed in problems.  The cars will have to move again tomorrow because the snow plows are scheduled to come through as part of the city's declared snow emergency.

The rest of the day was spent resting our bones and I did some more slide scanning. These photos are from a 1983 visit to Minnesota from the Santini branch of the clan. It was in the fall, possible Thanksgiving, but maybe earlier in the fall. I don't remember.

Unky Herb and his cousin, Nancy, when he was about three and a half.  They seem to be having some fun.

A photo of Nancy and Johnny with this blogger.  I guess Johnny must have had a growth spurt because he appears to be taller than me, or maybe he's standing on a stool.  Everyone seems to be having a good time.

There is more shoveling in my future, but probably tomorrow, rather than yet tonight.  The wind is expected to howl and the temps will drop.  That defines a wind chill event.  The city will begin to open up again tomorrow.  See Emmy's report on the snow storm of the decade.  She's one of the blizzard people.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Baby Princess

There's a big snowstorm coming tonight. At least that's what the weather creatures are predicting. I'm awaiting another prime shoveling opportunity. Not with much relish, but without fear.

This was my third straight day of tennis. Today it was the regulars of the geezer group playing at Fort Snelling. I'm a little fatigued and my play today was a bit below par, but the competition was keen and we all had a good time. I'm taking tomorrow off from the tennis wars, getting a substitute. There is a USTA mixed doubles team event on Sunday night, so I want to be rested, and I'd like to give myself a chance for a win.

The slide scanning project has slowed a bit in the last few days, but I'm posting two photos from 1983, the year that the Prairie Princess was born. This was before she became interested in all things prairie, when she was just an ordinary princess. She hasn't been seen much in the previous posts, because, well, she wasn't born yet.

The first is a shot in my kitchen when she is mere days old and is getting hugged by her dad. She survived the moment and went on to grow to an adult. She's off at Pad Thai at the moment, buying some succulent Thai food.

The second photo is later in the spring of 1983. Mr and Mrs Moohoo are holding the baby PP, probably in training for their own bundle of joy who arrived not much later in the year. Twenty-seven years ago, almost twenty-eight.

Everybody looks so young. Time, you thief.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Bike cold storage

I went back this morning to check on the abandoned bikes. There appear to be only two as noticed by my readers, but I could be wrong. The snow bank is formidable. The location of the bikes is the corner of Grand and St Albans Avenues, a block east of Walgreen's. I've now been able to squeeze two blogs out of the same basic material. I may go for three tomorrow.

Sunday night I intended to blog using this next photo. Unfortunately the Comcast network connection that I use was down across three states and I was stymied.

So, briefly then, I went to a charity event at Fort Snelling Tennis Center. It was intended to support kids' tennis programs for inner city youth. The main attractions were the Bryan Brothers, the top men's doubles team in the world.  Bob and Mike are on the ends of the line in this shot taken before the exhibition match.  Eric Butorac , a touring pro from Rochester was half of the opposition.  He's second from the left and his partner, Jean-Julien Rojer is second from the right.  The Bryans won the exhibition handily 6-4, 6-4.   They are very good, and very very quick.  And about 6 foot 4 inches tall.

For the record, this year I've seen the best women's doubles team in the world, Venus and Serena, at the French Open, and the best men's team in the world, Bob and Mike Bryan, in Minneapolis.  Both are teams of siblings.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Abandoned Bikes

Sometimes when you're out walking in the cold, getting some exercise and hoping for a photo opportunity to spice up your blog, manna falls from heaven. This bike was caught in the snow emergency and the plows buried it. I came across this sad sight very near Grand Avenue next to Walgreens I think. I may go back and look. I suspect it'll be there until spring.

This continues my sometimes and occasional series of abandoned bikes I've come across in the Twin Cities. Remember this muddy bike from July, 2009?  Perhaps I've stumbled across a new and bloggable subject.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Como bench

I needed some exercise this morning because my afternoon tennis appointment was canceled because of illness. I usually like to walk in Como Park, unless it's really, really cold. One must dress for the weather in Minnesota and every year I must be retrained. My head gear was inadequate, but I steeled myself and walked anyhow. Como has a nice group of benches, often with inscriptions to someone the donor of the bench loved. Right now the inscriptions and the place you want to sit are both covered with grim reality - snow and cold are upon us. But the sun was out, and it was really a pretty day, that is if I would have had adequate headgear.

The lake is frozen over. I'm not about to walk out onto the ice quite yet, but it looks solid. And there are no tracks on the snowy surface, so the crazies haven't begun to go out onto the surface of the lake. Every year about this time someone drowns because they go through the ice and can't get out. I think it's happened already somewhere in the state.

Not much else out of the ordinary happened today. I managed a trip to the food store and reproduced my last posting on the recipe blog - Asian style Coleslaw. I'm thinking of naming it Tousan's Asian Coleslaw because of the minor deviations I've added to the script.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

It snowed overnight

I awoke early because the snow prognosticator said we'd have six or so inches of white loveliness on the ground by morning. I also had a date with some tennis players at 8:30. So by 6:45 I was shoveling snow. At 8:30 I was playing tennis inside at Wooddale, and by 11:00 the shoveling project was completed. Tonight there is a Capitol City snow emergency, wherein the city plows the streets according to their grand plan.

I took the photo of my freshly shoveled walk at about 11:06. It was a light snow, fluffy enough to be called powder some places, and relatively easy to move. Except for the extra packed stuff behind the garage next to the alley where the privately contracted plows arrived when I was in the tennis center and piled snow on snow.  It's the dark month and it snowed in Minnesota.

"If you want to see God laugh, tell him about your plans."  -Woody Allen

Friday, December 3, 2010

Unky Herb is in this photo

We have a snow storm abrewing here on the tundra. Several inches of snow are expected to land tonight and probably make life more difficult for the natives. And the natives are likely to become restless.

But the slide scanning project goes on in the background. I have a process worked out and it seems to keep the slides flowing through the scanner. This photo comes from the summer of 1982. The available Lillie's kids and close family were spending a weekend at Deer Lake. You know who you are. These are some of the participants, including a squirmy two year-old. Where's Waldo? Those were good times as I look back on them now.

We played afternoon tennis at Fort Snelling, beginning at one o'clock and hoping to get home before the snow arrived. The tennis was pretty good - the Bills had their turn to be in the zone, and I had serious lack of food (or maybe fatigue) issues by the end of the day. I ran out of steam, and was run down by the bus. It happens. I'll be back with extra mustard next time. And by the time we were finished, the snow had begun, and it isn't supposed to stop until sometime tomorrow. April is a cruel month, but can it really be crueler than December. I don't think so.

I'm going out to shovel.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Linwood Bench

I went out for a brisk morning walk at about ten this morning. The time and temperature matched - both about ten. It was sunny and clear, a real nice looking day. As usual on these morning exercise walks I took my camera. I dressed for the cold and I was pretty comfortable because I tried to walk at Elvecrog speed. This bench stands at the base of a large tree at Linwood, and in the summer it gets shaded and is a pleasant place to pass a few minutes. Today it sat unused, lonely and pining for summer.

I was musing on the midnight sun, probably because there is a shortage of sunlight this month, and I wondered what they called the opposite phenomenon. Polar night is a period of days when no twilight appears. There is also a thing called polar twilight when only a faint glow of light appears at local noon. This happens only above 72'33" north latitude in the northern hemisphere.  Svalbard, Norway has about two and a half months of this particular darkness. There is also nautical polar night when there is no trace of light all 24 hours. This only happens above 78'33". That happens for quite a while in the most northerly settlement in the world, Alert, Nunavut, Canadafrom the middle of October until the end of February.  We, at 45' have much to learn about dark months.

Tennis went pretty well at Wooddale tonight.  We played two close sets, splitting the winning honors and called it a night.  It was a session of mixed doubles with the hard core girls and Jerry.  Again my timing was thrown off, partly because it's a different club than yesterday, and the obvious passage of time resulting in slower reaction time.  7-5, 4-6.  Getting old is not for sissies (GOINFS).

Then I went to Yang's for Singapore Rice Noodles, but this time I went with the mildest heat available, mostly so there was a chance I'd be able to sleep through the night.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


OK. November is over and I can stop this every day blogging bit. But I'm sort of used to it and I managed to get a couple of photos around noon when the sun was shining, during our nine hours of sunlight allotted for today. I took a walk around outside. I felt like I needed the exercise because I haven't played the great game since Saturday morning. It's icy out there. It was also a little colder than I'm used to - sixteen degrees - a temperature that in January will be classified nearly balmy. I took a walk over by the rec center in my neighborhood and looked for photo worthy locations.

The first is the tennis courts where I played several matches this summer, notably with Rich the Tucson tennis titan. The nets are still up, but the courts appear unplayable. The lines are all under snow cover, for instance. If this was Coleraine, we'd take down the nets, pile snow around the fence, flood the area with water and make a skating rink. Here it's just scenery.

Further west in the big open field at Linwood, someone has constructed what appears to be a public snow fort. We used to make snow forts as a kid, too, but we usually had more snow to work with. I guess we are expecting some more later this week.

Later in the afternoon I went inside at Fort Snelling Tennis Center and played three sets of tennis with the usual gang of geezers - Dennis, Bill and Bill, today. They were pretty good sets and competitive, but were more one sided than has been the case lately. We each played one set with each of the other guys as doubles partner. I ended up a little winded, but glad to have played again.

December is just getting started. It gets much colder and appreciatively darker. December deserves its nickname from the family poem - distemper, as in : "You lie, August, split timber, all over, no wonder, distemper." It's a ditty to remember the last six months of the year.