Thursday, January 30, 2014

January continues to be obstreperous

We had some decent weather yesterday and paid for it today. A little snowfall turned into six inches of white wonderfulness overnight and through most of the morning. Having not much better to do, I shoveled a bunch of it off my sidewalks and the area behind the garage leading to the alley. It went pretty well and I managed to get done before noon, one of the first in the neighborhood. It's getting kind of deep out there, although I hear that western Michigan is getting biblical snowfall totals. To be fair, the closest the ten plagues of Egypt got to snowfall was the plague of hail (the seventh).

The streets of St Paul look like this, or did this early afternoon. The snow emergency plowing starts at 9 pm and thereafter the streets will look as well plowed as the alleys have since about noon. The big city residents deal with the snow drop by driving on the streets and packing them down so that we're guaranteed snow packed streets until the first big thaw.

I understand that Atlanta came to a halt yesterday when hit with 3 inches of snow.  People spent the night in their cars because they couldn't get home.  They should come to St Paul for some storm driver training.

I walked down the street rather than taking sidewalks on my way to Grand Avenue. The sidewalks were not yet shoveled or snow blown so the best walking paths were those shared with motorized vehicles. I managed to get in my exercise for the day and then some before the early afternoon passed. I'm still slated to play some tennis tonight.

January has nearly been endured.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Son and Father

There's a blizzard in much of Minnesota tonight, but it was nicer in the morning. Unky Herb and Ying took possession of the the house that they bought together. NCW and I went to get a walk through of the house in the western suburbs and, we thought, to help him remove the snow from the driveway. The driveway had been plowed, probably by the realtor's plow service, so we were able to escape that duty. The house is nice and plenty big enough for their purposes, and is situated on a quiet block near some parks. They made a good choice. Their adventure in home owning has begun.

On the 105th anniversary of his birth, I stop to remember the boy's grandfather. He's been gone for 37 plus years, but not forgotten.

Tonight we wait for the one of the coldest nights of the year with truly sobering wind chills. We're expecting raw temps of about -20º and wind gusts to 33 mph producing wind chills predicted to be around -46º. We have hunkered down.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Polar vortex returns

It was -11º F. overnight, but gradually warmed to zero by afternoon. It was a business day, however, and NCW had a couple of cans of quarters, dimes and nickels to feed to the Affinity Plus "Purple Penny Eater," so we set out to brave the elements and maybe get a look at St Paul at minus 3 degrees. The coins were successfully digested by the machine and money changed hands. We stopped on Cherokee and Smith to look at the skyline of St Paul. It was too cold for NCW to get out of the car, so I snapped a few shots from the top of the bluff and we went on our way. The big cloud in the downtown area is the central heating facility and is supposed to be steam only. But it's a lot of steam. The Mississippi River between me and the steam was covered with ice. The polar vortex has done its job.

The stop sign at the corner by the Smith Avenue bridge has lost its equilibrium and needs righting. I think that will wait for a warmer day.

The Xcel power plant was smokin' and making electricity, burning natural gas and spewing carbon dioxide into the morning air. It's visible above the Smith Bridge.

We were off then to Trader Joe's where we bought groceries and then home for lunch. On a day like this it's best to stay inside and count blessings. And have a high calorie lunch.

Later we were out again, this time for some Target shopping, a way to fend off cabin fever. January will be with us a while longer and with it the threat of more polar vortex temps. Minnesota Januarys are often like this. It just must be endured.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

January thaw

It was 33º and the sun was shining at about 10:30 am. The North Country Woman and I decided that a walk outside was called for and required. The falls have been an inspiration from time to time and I hadn't been there in a while, plus the deep freeze of the last couple of weeks and the recent snow fall were likely to have changed the face of the falls. Getting to the lower level was a challenge, but we found a way without risking the icy steps. We found the first part of a snowman sitting near the creek and used it for a photo op.

The falls of Minnehaha are frozen. There is no sign of falling water, but somewhere within the mass of ice there must be a channel of very cold water. A lot of people were playing on the ice below the falls where there is usually a pool of creek water beginning to roil its way to the Mississippi.

While we were at the bridge below the falls nearest the falls itself we noticed a family lining up a family photo with the camera perched precipitously on one of the walls of the bridge and the dad was trying to figure out the camera timer for a family selfie. I stepped up and offered my services as "Bob" the substitute photographer. It turns out that the guy was from France and he had just moved his family here to live. He works for Boston Scientific, he said, and transferred here to give his three small children the cultural experience of living in America. They have been here a week and just missed the polar vortex from last week. I offered him a "bon jour" and took four or five photos with his camera. I suggested just before the first shot that they say "fromage." They liked it and laughed and I hope they got a least one good photo with the falls in the background, compliments of "Bob."

And then we went on our way with a short warning to the French folks about the impending return of a mini polar vortex later this week.

The stairs are pretty treacherous in January. There is a closed sign at the top, which means they are not shoveled and shouldn't be used. There are, of course, a lot of people who use them anyhow. The way down requires some skiing ability and the way back up the sure footedness of a mountain goat.

The creek has some beauty on this sort of day. This is next to Bridge number 2.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Still January

There really isn't much to blog about in January. And it's still January. We're over halfway through it and we've endured some downright frigid cold as the "polar vortex" visited us last week. I guess it's set to revisit again next week. There was a snow drop of about 3-4 inches overnight and I was forced to drive in it this morning before the plows were out. I was scheduled for early Saturday tennis and I had to leave the house at 8:30 to get there on time. When I got home the sun was out and the sky was blue so I went out and took some photos. First a selfie.

The sidewalk is shoveled, thanks to Unky Herb. There is some ice under the hard pack, but it's passable and I didn't have to move the white stuff. I was playing tennis, or maybe doing some white knuckle driving on the as yet unplowed freeways east of the city on the way to or from the tennis facility where I play.

The alleys in St Paul are plowed oftener and with better results than the streets. This one, behind the garage, was plowed this morning. The street in front of the house will be plowed sometime tomorrow as part of the "snow emergency" plowing process.

The Australian Open tennis tournament is in session (it's over 100º there every day this week)  and soon the Winter Olympics will start, so maybe there will be some athletic action to comment on. I'm especially looking forward to watching some world class curling.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

It's still too cold

I went for an afternoon walk around the neighborhood to fend off cabin fever. The temperature had soared to +1º F. But the sun was out and a blue sky welcomed me as I walked, all bundled up, about six blocks on the sidewalks of the city. Not far from home a former elm tree has been transformed into a panda and it's a kind of milestone on jaunts in the neighborhood. I should not complain about cold. The morning wake-up temperature in Grand Rapids was -31º F.

 January must be endured.

My backyard has denizens. These tracks were made by a rabbit, I think, but maybe a squirrel. The shadows are just extras to make the scene look peaceful.

The streets of the Saintly City have been plowed, but when it's below zero the snow gets packed to ice and stays on the surface, usually until a thaw. That may be sometime in January or February. Maybe not, too.

It's a new year, so I'm off tonight to play some Thursday night tennis at Wooddale.