Thursday, January 31, 2013

Alternate theme

It's not yet February theme day, but I would have more sympathy with a theme like "gear for walking on ice" rather than "umbrellas." Then I'd be able to post a photo of these fine pieces of footwear that attach to whatever shoes you choose and which provide really very good traction, even on icy sidewalks - yaktrax. Today is a good day for testing them out, too, because there is plenty of ice on St Paul's sidewalks.

January has been cold as it's supposed to be in normal years. We have some sort of hazardous weather warning in town until noon tomorrow. It's likely to be the coldest day of the year so far windchill-wise. The temperature is predicted to be -15º F. with significant wind by morning. Any outside walks will require long johns and yaktrax.

So today I stayed inside and made some vegetarian soup with the veggies in the fridge.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

One hundred four years since 1909

It's the old guy's 104th birthday, so I'm posting a photo from about 70 years ago. I'm reasonably sure of the age of the photo because I recognize that tow headed older brother of mine, and me with one of my least attractive expressions on my infant face. I do have a recent photo that has a similar expression on the same visage.

A photo from a recent extremely cold Minnesota day, and a photo that I haven't published before. It's still January in this part of Minnesota.

The Prairie Princess sent email reporting a successful return to Norway and is currently hanging out with Unni and Lill Nora in Oslo. The last month passed way too quickly.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Prairie Princess returns to land of Vikings

The Prairie Princess is off to Oslo to finish her school year. She's been here for over a month and it was sad to see her go again. We had a lot of good times and some good dinners, both here and at some of her favorite restaurants in the Saintly City. Unky Herb and I went to the airport with her as she checked in for her Frontier Airlines connecting flight to Iceland and on to Norway. She'll be in Oslo tomorrow. The house will considerably emptier.

I went off after the leave taking and played some tennis at Fort Snelling. It was a good way to spend a couple of afternoon hours in January. It was my third session of doubles in three days and I'm beginning to feel a bit knackered. I think I need to fuel up - a big plate of spaghetti seems just about right.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


The day started out at -12º F, after a day - yesterday - that stayed below zero all day. That's a paltry number, I find, after chatting with the North Country Woman (NCW) who told me her thermometer was reading -25º at about noon at the Pengilly Post Office. I was experiencing a bit of cabin fever, so I put on my cold weather gear and went for a brisk walk to the nearby park. By the time I ventured out the temp had warmed to near zero and there was negligible wind. There's not much of scenic value this time of year at this latitude, so I took another of those bad self portraits. I was standing in Linwood Park with the freeway in the background and down the hill.

There's not much snow on the ground at Linwood or anywhere else in the Saintly City, but there is enough ice to give one pause before striking out across country without Yaktrax (or spikes) on one's boots. I went anyhow.

Then I came home and made a pot of soup.

It's now 1ºF.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dinner for six

Since the Prairie Princess (PP) is only a week from returning to northern Europe, we (PP, NCW, UH, and moi) decided to have a dinner and invite Emmy, EMSA, and the Smith's. Tonight was the scheduled night, but the Smith's are under the weather and were unable to attend, so we had dinner for six rather than the earlier expected eight. It was a fun evening, eating was simple - spaghetti a la Jimmy with garlic bread and green beans. Pineapple for dessert. The group sat around and talked about the world, current events, St Paul doings, and remembrance of times past. We missed having the Smiths at the table, but we trust they'll be well in time for the Super Bowl.

Here's another in the occasional series of bad photos of bloggers. I think that it's mainly Santini and me who are participating. I'm not sure that these are any better than previous bad photos, but they were easy to take in the waning light in my back yard and didn't entail a lot of walking outside as the weather began to turn decidedly ugly. We're headed for sub-zero temps overnight tonight. Now that's ugly.

It was a busy day. My Saturday morning tennis wasn't as successful as it has been in the past. We had a sub, and a young one at that, who was playing well and I didn't manage to be on the winning team for any of the three sets we played. Tennis will teach you humility when you least expect it, or desire it. But I'm happy that I played and that I was able to at least play respectably. And to assuage my ego, I played some eight-off solitaire on the computer and managed to win a few games in a row. One should never leave one's ego unassuaged.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bad Self Portraits

Santini has been posting some self portraits lately that are purported to be bad. I thought that I might get in on the fun and try to capture a self portrait or two that might cause a stomach or two to turn. After my afternoon tennis session, after I'd parked in the garage, I stopped in the back yard to try my hand at hand-held, stretched-out-arm self photography. It's not so easy to get anything that you like, but I snapped off six and came in the house to download them. After dinner, I checked with PP and PW to see which of the photos seemed best to reflect my image. I can't say there were any that really stood out, but there were six and after some debate they went with the photo below. It's a profile, an angle that I virtually never see.

This one I liked a little better. I think the subject looks thoughtful, but the peanut gallery thinks he's mad.

January continues. We've reached halfway and so far it's been bearable, but I've been looking at the 10 day outlook for St Paul and Pengilly. I hope they're wrong, but yesterday the weather creatures were predicting a morning in Pengilly next week at -31º F. (That's degrees below zero, not degrees below freezing.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

January is a long month

It's still January and it's the coldest part of the year here near the 45th parallel. We're getting our share of cold air, but not much snow. After hanging around the house, doing little chores and staying warm, I set out for an exercise walk about 4 o'clock. It's about 13º so I dressed warmly and set out to visit Linwood Park. I thought that I might even try an ugly self portrait, but I needed a reasonably attractive backdrop, so as to not break the camera. It's a pretty spare landscape out there today. Some ice, some snow, and not many humans walking about.

I've taken this photo from other angles, but I like this one as well as any of them.

My long shadow at Linwood Park near sundown on this cold January afternoon. This is as close to a self portrait as I got today.  I think that pile of ice was once a snow man before a few days of melting, followed by a hard freeze brought it to this shape.

Just plugging along, trying to outlast January.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Australian Open starts on Monday

This illustrates the reason that a lot of people my age stay inside this time of year. After it rained yesterday, it got cold enough to change the water on the sidewalks to treachery. This was Oxford Avenue on the way to the drugstore to get cold medications late this afternoon. This sort of weather makes one yearn for comfort food. I've made soup three of the last four days and it seems to disappear without a trace. I think I may make another batch tomorrow. If I had a recipe for it I'd post it in the recipe blog, but every time I make it it's different - the common elements, however, are olive oil, vegetable broth, onions, diced tomatoes, soy sauce, and mild yellow curry spice. Usually cumin. Often mushrooms.

I did manage to navigate the sidewalks to the drugstore and back, but that has been the extent of my exercise today. I guess it was meant to be a rest day after three days of tennis and that rare session of curling at the Frogtown Curling Club on Tuesday.

The sky just before sundown doesn't give anyone much cheer. This is what 12º looks like today.

I guess I'll watch some football like most of the rest of the nation today.

Monday will be the first day of the main draw for the Australian Open.  To my wonderment, Serena is seeded third.  Behind the two screamers.  Maria and Vika.  I am predicting a Serena win and maybe another Serena Slam.  I'd like to see the Scotsman, Andy Murray, win on the men's side.  Or a blancmange.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Gloomy Thursday

It was a gloomy sort of January day, but it was warm enough to nearly qualify as a March day. PP needed some exercise and Unky Herb was feeling a bit better from his bout with the crud. So we walked over to Linwood, down St Clair to the stairs and back home via neighborhood streets. On the way I took a photo at Linwood to try to show the grayness of the day. One of these trees has a kite in it, left over from a warmer and windier day when the kite's owner lost control of it and it flew into the clutches of a kite eating tree.

I played some tennis tonight at Wooddale. And it rained.   On the way home at nine p.m. the temperature wavered at 33º and I was sure that ice was forming under the tires. Tomorrow morning could be a bad travel day as the temperature drops into freezing territory.  I'm staying home until at least noon. Maybe I'll make some soup.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

PP off to Ceili Dancing

It's Wednesday night and PP is back into some of her old routine. Tonight she's off to do some Irish dancing called Ceili dancing. It's pronounced Kay-lee, probably from its Celtic heritage. Maybe.  PP has about two more weeks before she flies back to Norway for more education and a part time job at UMB.

It was fun to joke with her before she left. I told her I used to be a pretty good dancer myself before I took an arrow to the knee. I guess a kind of inside joke for those who play the video game Skyrim, and sorta entertaining for them.

I played some tennis at Fort Snelling again today. The parking lot was filled to overflow today because of some sort of tennis coaching clinic. Some guy on the way in remarked about how full the parking lot was. I told him it was understandable because they have tennis courts inside. He replied that that's what attracted him to the parking lot, too.

Tennis and a trip to Target were the entertainments for me today. Hey. It's January. You do what you can to get through this cold, dark month.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Curling with stones

When you get a chance to curl on a team, it seems like a good idea to accept the challenge. I haven't curled in two or three years, but The Girl From the North Country's (TGFTNC) daughter, Sherrie, has a team that curls at Biff Adams arena. I had mentioned in the past that I had done some curling, so tonight when Sherrie's team was a curler short, she asked me if I'd be a sub. After thinking about it a bit and checking with my knees, I decided it would be fun to try sliding stones down the ice again.

TGFTNC was the official photographer. We arrived a little early to meet the team and to get the equipment on and ready. I still have shoes and a curling broom which I was able to find and bring along.

Here's the team (the Flaherty Rink) just before the start of the game. Sherrie, TT, Robbie (TGFTNC's grandson), and Jackie.

Meet the skipper of the Flaherty Rink before the game. She's sitting in front of the sign announcing the location of the competition - the Frogtown Curling Club.

I had a chance to warm up, so I slid four rocks down the ice to see if I could remember how to deal with stone weight, direction and whatever ice conditions were out there.

This is me, TT, delivering a stone during the game. The skipper had me curl in third position. That means that I got to flip the coin to see who went first, keep the score, sweep a bit in front of other team member's stones, and hold the broom while the skipper curled.

It was fun to play this ancient game again. As luck would have it everyone on our rink curled well. We got off to an early lead and held off the competition to win 13-1. It was darned fun.

Monday, January 7, 2013

January thaw

It was a minor thaw today, making it to 36º by mid afternoon. PW is still in town until sometime tomorrow although she's doing a bit of part time work with her son's mortgage company. But this afternoon, in the "heat of the day" we took a little stroll around the neighborhood. It's not a particularly scenic time of year, especially if there hasn't been a fresh snowfall in a few days, but it was nice enough to visit the ice rink at Linwood and walk past the tennis court to the St Clair stairs which get you back to the neighborhood streets. The rink wasn't being used when we were there, but it has clearly seen some use in the last few weeks. The job of flooding the rink goes to an employee of the playground, but whoever is doing it hasn't been able to master the art of attaining a smooth ice surface. This one had plenty of bumps and imperfections. It's clearly for free skating rather than hockey - no boards - but I'm pretty sure that doing a spin or attempting an axel on this surface would test the skater's skill. PP left her skates in Oslo, so she won't be doing any tricks on this surface.

A St Paul intersection - at the top of the St Clair stairs - which demonstrates the state of the streets around here. The ice melted a bit today, but the temperature is back to below freezing. They're slippery. And so are the sidewalks. On the way back home from Grand Avenue, PW nearly fell on an icy patch, but managed to right the ship and made it home unscathed. I guess this helps explain the phenomena of snowbirds.

Herb's creeping crud is a little better, but still has a way to go to get back to normal. PP is going out to dinner with a friend tonight. PW and I are going shopping.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Thorn and roses

Sundays in January are often used up with football playoff games, but the Vikings bowed yesterday. It was a nice day, about 24º when we left for a little walk in Como Park. The Prairie Princess (PP) and Pengilly Woman (PW) went along for the exercise. We had a good time circling the lake and chatting about life and nothing in general, enjoying the day and the bright sun. At the south end of lake on the dock where I stopped yesterday, we stopped again, for a photo op. I guess I was the thorn walking between the two roses.

Later at the spit of land that sticks out into the lake we stopped again. I was sitting by the lake with PW while PP snapped a photo. Then we walked across the ice to the pavilion and decided to extend the walk. We crossed Lexington on the footbridge and made our way to the Conservatory. It was the last week of the poinsettia show and there were lots of people there to take in the color and the warmth of the building. I have lots of poinsettia photos and didn't take any more today. Next week the winter show in the sunken garden begins. Maybe I'll get some photos then.

We stopped a bit for coffee in the lunchroom by the zoo. They close the whole facility at 4 p.m. so we had to leave and make our way back to the car by the lake.

A unique bike encountered near the entrance to the Como Conservatory. It's probably a Minnesota thing. I had to have a photo for the bikers in my readership.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Back from Hiatus

Hiatus is not a small village in Serbia. I've been busy and my camera has been idle, so I took a while off while the dust settled. PP is home and it was the holidays. People have been under the weather, and my knee has been giving me problems.

We had a nice Christmas. The white elephant party (aka pie (π?) party) went well, and New Year's Eve passed without mishap.

So much for the last two weeks. Today, while waiting for the PW to arrive, I went for a walk by Como Lake. It's about 27º and nice enough for people to get out and walk, and even cross the lake on the ice. I'm always amazed that people fish through the ice on Como. It's a small urban lake and probably not the cleanest lake in the northland. There were people out on the lake with ice augers making holes to try to catch some fish. There is a nice dock at the south end of the lake, sticking out into the ice.  That's the pavilion that houses Black Bear Crossing in the far background.

There are quite a few of these "Thin Ice" signs around the lake. For the moment they don't really apply because it's been cold enough to change the water therein to its solid state. The structure on the ice is a ice house for lake fishing.

There was this guy shoveling off a portion of the lake for a private skating rink for his chilluns.  The kids weren't much help.
So I'm back.