Archive for January, 2014

the town talk diner don’t talk no more

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These are the lights of the Town Talk Diner, on Lake Street. Existed for a number of years as a tiny little diner, then, bought, expanded, turned into a much larger fancy eating place that got great reviews and was not cheap. Then, suddenly, closed. That was a year or two ago, and been closed ever since. Too bad. Perhaps they should have left it alone?

Today’s phenological Note:
The rabbits. They are up to something. Along the Mississippi River, and in South Minneapolis. Whenever you look at them they suddenly stop what they are doing and stare back at you, almost aggressively, until you have to look away. The look in their eyes is cold and calculating. Defiant. They are plotting something. I feel sure of it. Something big.

doing hard time at Winter State Penitentiary

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Sometimes it seems like we’ve been sentence to Life in Winter State Penitentiary with no parole, no time off for good behavior. This has been a funny sort of winter, with short periods, a few days, of bitter cold -20 temperatures, followed by a day of pleasant +20 degrees, followed by a day or two of snow, followed by -20 degree temperatures. I have noticed the days getting a bit longer, though.

Today’s phenological observation: many grey squirrels are seen stealing mittens around Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake; squirrel’s nests are found stuffed full of mittens, hats, and scarves, used as insulation. Wool items are preferred, and nests can easily be located by looking for scattered piles of polar fleece which lay discarded on the ground below.



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four unknown guys on an unnamed building on a forgotten street in lowertown

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This is a picture from a few years ago, a building in St. Paul’s lowertown. And right now I can’t find my reference book, so I’ve got no information handy on what building this is or who these guys are. And I also think it’s likely that this isn’t even mentioned in the book. But… I will investigate. More on this later.

Update: This is the American House Apartments, at 352 Wacouta in St. Paul. Designed by Cass Gilbert, built in 1895, this was originally known as the Western Supply Company Warehouse, but was later known for many years as the  home of American Beauty Macaroni.

St. Paul Union Pacific Vertical-Lift Railroad Bridge

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That’s the black bridge in the foreground. Built in 1913, now 101 years old and still going strong. They don’t build them like that any more. The brown bridge behind it is the Robert Street Bridge, which was built much later, in 1924-25. In the distant background is the Lafayette Bridge, which is currently in the process of being replaced; it was built in the 1960s.
This concludes today’s Bridge Update.

the morning pot o’ tea

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The cup was made by Dick Cooter, up on the North Shore. The pot was made by Bob Bjelkengren. The Irish Breakfast tea was made by me.


brown bag breakfast meeting

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Seen in the snow a few days ago. Sad.

light snow

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A cold dark morning, a stiff breeze, and lots of big snowflakes. What could be more fun?

early morning skyway, saint paul

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Another dark cold morning in Saint Paul. A lone worker. Going to work. 


a bit of chaos at the feeder

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The sparrows are all aflutter when there’s a full feeder. I wonder if they get enough food to make up for all the energy they expend getting at it.


unexpected tree

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high bridge, saint paul, just after five pm

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Another shot from January 2013, a beautiful orange evening sky, people hurrying home at the end of the day.

fresh track

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I always like finding footprints in the snow. Birds, cats, varmints. Even, sometimes, people. There’s a little story in every trail. A story with a lot of unanswered questions.

fresh tracks

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A St. Paul parking lot after a fresh dusting of snow. Snow falls, life goes on.

more glass things

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Yup, more glass things from the store that sells these sorts of glass things. These are taller and skinnier than the ones posted previously, and would be more useful in taller situations. But it’s nice to have a variety on hand, because not all situations call for the tall ones like this. Sometimes, though, these are just the thing you need, and nothing else will quite do the job.

first national bank, saint paul

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The big red one(s), on top of the First National Bank Building. There are four of them up there, and they take turns being lit up. Which seems very midwestern. This is a picture of two of the unlit sides, as if you couldn’t tell. They are resting and waiting. Unusual shot, in that most people would want to take a picture of the lit up red 1, shining out over the city, piercing the gloom and the darkness with its bold assertion. But no, not me. This is the more self-effacing side of the bank. Being number 1 is not such a big deal, afterall. We can’t all be number one.
I wonder if the Second National Bank put’s a big red 2 on top of it’s building?
Is there a Second National Bank?

Apparently there was a Second National Bank of St. Paul. No information found, yet, on whether it had a big 2 on its roof.

planet pizzastone

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This is a new view of the little known planet Pizzastone. Scientists speculate that there are rich deposits of oil on Pizzastone, along with a good deal of cheese and tomato sauce. Pizzastone has one known moon, called Grainbeltia, which is unusual in that it is sometimes observed out on its own, as though it has veered wildly out of its Pizzastone orbit. Whenever Pizzastone is seen, though, Grainbeltia is generally in the vicinity.

grinning moon?

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Downtown St. Paul; I suppose if you want to you can see the moon as a big grin up there in the sky. Another day done, the moon takes over.

glass things, at that store in uptown that stocks a lot of glass things like this..

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These are some of those round glass things with front and back portholes, and also, on this model, two or three top portholes. Obviously, these are the type that hang from their sturdy glass eyelet hangers. There’s a lot of uses for a glass thing like this. I bet a lot of ideas come to mind for you too. This makes me want to hang a lot more little hooks in the house! (Like we don’t have dozens of these little glass things already!)

down the slot

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St. Paul, morning, December, cold. Beautiful blue sky, and this jet caught my eye as it sparkled in the morning sun. Where are these people headed, so early in the morning? Where am I headed, down here on solid ground?

ice parrot

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Another one from January of 2013; I’ve gotta get out and take some pictures sometime.
Every winter Saint Paul has a Winter Carnival, and professional ice sculptors carve amazing things out of large blocks of ice in Rice Park. Typically it seems to work like this:
Day 1: temperature is 15 degrees, and ice blocks are placed in park
Day 2: sculptors at work; temperature shoots up to about 45 degrees.
Day 3: crowds rush to the park to see the ice sculptures; temperature is anywhere between 40 and 45.
Day 4: crowds diminish. Temperatures hover around 36 or 37.
Day 5: ice carvings destroyed, the temperature drops to -10.

As my friend Ghost says, the ice carvings are the most exciting 20 minutes of the winter!

Last year this parrot was one of my favorites.


hanging out on the rack, ragstock, uptown, january 2013

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Leeks on the chopping block, from January 2013. Potato-leek soup: it’s what’s for dinner.