Thursday, January 26, 2012

One hundred and three years old today

A 67+ year-old photo from about 1944. The old guy, Tom Miller, was 35 or so at the time. Today, 103.  He's smoking and wearing a really nice fedora(?).  The photo was likely taken at the "ranch" of Richard Anderson, his father-in-law. Jimmy and Tommy are the youngsters.  The car is, I think, a 1938 Ford 4-door Sedan.  See photo.

Whoever made time made a lot of it.

Lots of good tennis going on in Australia.  The women's final will be contested tomorrow between the two worst screamers in the women's game:  Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka.  It'll likely be a good quality match that should be viewed using judicious application of the mute button.  Tonight Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic vie to see who reaches the final against Rafa Nadal.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ice fishing is a Minnesota thing

I was out on Swan Lake over the weekend and took a few photos of a popular Minnesota January activity, ice fishing. It was a nice day for being out on the lake, the ice was plenty thick as you can tell from the chunk of nice next to the house, and there was enough sun to get photos. Whoever owned the house didn't seem to be around, but there had been some recent activity.  The sled used to get the house into position is leaning against the side of the house.

There were other more actively used houses on the lake, too. There was a truck out on the lake by this ice house. The ice was strong enough to handle the weight of a truck, so a human walking on the ice wasn't in any imminent danger.

There was even a village of ice fishing houses on the far side of the lake.

Northern Minnesota has been cold enough in January to freeze the water firmly enough to fish on the ice, but it's a short season and, because it started late there isn't that much time left - maybe another month. Then it will be time to shovel the snow and ice off the tennis courts and get on with the tennis season.

 I realized as I walked across the frozen lake that I was walking on water - frozen, of course - but it's an activity unavailable to residents of Florida and other southern states.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Superior Shores shores

The reason they named this town north of Duluth Two Harbors is because it has two harbors. Oddly, this is not one of the harbors, but it is on Lake Superior. The ice on the rocks along the shore are the chief evidence that it is winter. The snow is still strangely absent from the north shore.

A rock on the bay.

A nice sunset on Lake Superior.

The Australian Open should be in progress as I am typing this. A fine fortnight of tennis is beginning.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Gooseberry Falls

I hadn't been to Superior Shores since the northern Minnesota TRAM some years ago when we spent the last night of the bike trek in Two Harbors. It was a cool summer night when we came through, but this time it was 19 degrees and snowy. The big lake outside the hotel is clear of ice on this warmest of recent winters, but there was a layer of ice attached to the rocks which were just a few feet from shore. It's winter here now, and though we don't have much snow yet, there is plenty of cold wind and ice.

It was a good opportunity to visit Gooseberry Falls State Park about 15 miles north of Two Harbors. I was cold enough that I didn't expect to see many other souls out walking along the Gooseberry River, but I was surprised to see quite a few hardy folks outside, taking pictures and walking on the ice of the stream. There was a newly married couple, the bride still in white, walking to the river to have photos taken to commemorate their union. She looked cold and he looked sympathetic to her plight. There were photographers of all ages out to capture the mood of the day. And us.

We encountered an ice climber, well equipped with spiked boots, a couple of ice axes and a good quantity of ropes as he was about to attempt to scale one of the falls.

A panorama of three of the Gooseberry Falls - two of the middle Falls and the lower falls.

I add for postscripted fun, another fine example of the kind of benches that one can find in the state parks of Minnesota. This one overlooks one of Gooseberry River's five waterfalls.

The Australian Open tennis tournament opens tomorrow in Australia. It's the first of tennis' grand slam events of 2012.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Where is the winter?

There should be ice on the Mississippi River. I went down to Crosby Farm park to get some exercise on a day when the temperature here was an unlikely 54 degrees. The warmest January 10th on record here by about five degrees. There was no ice on the river and very little snow along the banks of the big river. Weird.

But I walked around Upper Lake and the ice there was intact, but big puddles of water adorned the surface. This kind of weather is confusing the crocuses and the cottonwood trees.  And some of the humans in town.

An unexpected gift from the white elephant party was this photo from 1965 that I hadn't seen in years, if ever. My memory isn't that good. It's the day in June that I graduated from Hamline University in St Paul. Forty six years have added wrinkles and subtracted hair. Thanks to Mark for bringing it and letting me keep it.  The photo was originally in color, but it's faded, and I converted to black and white to reflect its age

A special greeting to the old married folks who just celebrated their 47th anniversary. I wish them many more happy years.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Meanwhile, outside ...

I made another trip to the conservatory and took some more photos of poinsettias. It's a fine place to see some color on an otherwise pretty drab day. A lot of other color enthusiasts were doing the same thing.

Some more impressive poinsettias.  There are apparently several varieties that have been created with white sections on the red leaves.  Who knew?

The reflecting pond in the Sunken Garden was calm and lovely as usual.

It was a record setting warm day in Minnesota for January 9. Inside the poinsettias were blooming and outside the cocuses were getting confused by the warmth. Meanwhile these guys were ice fishing on Como in the 49 degree heat. I also encountered a couple of high school age guys running around the lake shirtless at the same time the ice fishermen were tempting fate out on the ice. A strange day in Minnesota.

The white elephant party went well on Saturday. We had 15 people exchanging gifts, eating pizza, salad, and pie while chatting and remembering previous Christmases and people not with us that night. The usual array of Christmas meat, bobble-head deities, and gag gifts changed hands. It was a fun evening and we are likely to continue the tradition again next year.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


It has been an unseasonable day. It's really too warm for a Minnesota January day, but who's complaining.  It was 46 degrees in St Paul and 62 degrees somewhere in the southwest corner of the state. My appointment with a tennis racket isn't scheduled until tonight, so I decided to take a walk over by Minnehaha Falls. It was a little cloudy, but warm enough to bring out quite a few other walkers. I stopped by the falls, which is a trickle accompanied by icicles, and not very attractive. I trekked to the end of the creek where it enters the Mississippi, stopping now and then to appreciate the warmth and the afternoon light. At the end of the creek there is a bridge over the water. Because the creek level is low I was able to get a new vantage point and took a picture with the more well lit Mississippi River flowage in the background.

Along the way there are some nice views of the creek as the ice turned temporarily back to the liquid form.  It looks more like March than January.

It's Thursday night tennis at Wooddale, and I'm about to be on my way. I've been in a bit of a perceived slump since my layoff when I visited the Daughter of Norway, but I think the jet lag has finally passed and I feel like the slump may be history.

I'm starting to think that a white elephant party is in order. It's a good way to close down the Christmas/New Year season.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Poinsettia Show

I combined a walk outside with a search for color this afternoon. I parked by the lake and walked over to the Como Conservatory to see if there was a flower show to be seen. It was a cold walk, but once inside the Conservatory it got much warmer and indeed steamy. The Sunken Garden is the home of the holiday poinsettia show. I don't know how much longer it's running, but it was nice to see some brilliant reds.

Another view featuring the sculpture in the pool, daintily dipping her toe into the water. It's winter outside, but a pleasant summer day inside the sunken garden.

January is off to a coolish start, but a warm-up is coming later in the week. It's been a wimpy winter so far in the north country.