Archive for February, 2014


winter clouds

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love you, buddy

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…and a belated happy valentines day out there to you all.

the hawk sits alone

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After the critics have gone, the hawk sits alone, thinking his hawk thoughts. I suppose it’s not easy being a hawk. And perhaps there’s a lot of time – too much time? –  for contemplation about that. Well, life is hard.

a moment for an important note

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Another from the archives; an important note that caught my eye.


Yesterday’s phenology note:

I noted, yesterday, that there is a heck of a lot of snow around here; more than I’ve seen on the ground in a few years. I noticed this as I was trudging over to the hardware store, our hard-working (and now non-working) snow-blower in tow. No more snow in the forecast for the next few days. Let’s hope that it’s fixable. I did not notice any vultures circling overhead as we rolled on over there. I take that as a good sign.


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a jet trail across a blue sky. Plus a little photoshop action. Something a little different.

winter blues and greens

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Shadows on the snow, a couple years ago.  This year, that bench is probably buried.


mississippi river, saint paul, winter

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Another one from the archives. This year the Mississippi seems like it has been frozen over for most of the winter. And there’s a lot more snow.

Yesterday’s phenology:

Speaking of snow.. we got about 10 inches yesterday, mostly through the night. It started out heavy and wet, and ended up not so heavy, but when you shovel it (which, as the snowblower suddenly stopped snow blowing, I needed to do a bit of) when you shovel it, it’s the worst kind of snow,  the sort of snow that sticks to your shovel.
We have an awful lot of snow around here. The streets are slippery with snow, and visibility when driving is terrible, due to high piles of the stuff. I definitely should be skiing this winter, but I am not. But it is not too late!

the hawk and the hawk critics

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Another one from the archives, this shot from about 2010. The neighborhood hawk being harassed by a bunch of critics. See how he’s ignoring them?

Yesterday’s phenology:

All day, waiting for the snow to come, watching the weather reports. 2 to 4 inches. Then up to 5 to 7. Then up to 6 to 8. Then back down to 5 to 7. By late afternoon we had about 4 wet heavy inches of snow on the ground, and about 32 degrees out there. And then it started coming down and cooling down. At this moment the National Weather Service is saying 6 to 10 inches tonight, and it’s snowing and 18 degrees. With a wind of 20 to 30 mph, gusting to 40. Nice. I made sure the bird feeder was stocked for tomorrow. We can’t have angry sparrows in the yard. Harassing us.

forbidden bridge

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One from the archives – January 2012. I think we have a bit more snow this winter. This is down by the Mississippi, just off the River Road, just North of downtown; some nice walking trails there in the summer.

Yesterday’s phenological note:

February thaw: two straight days of 40 degrees, to be followed tonight and tomorrow by a new shipment of fresh replacement snow, 3 to 7 inches, they say. Nice to have the brief respite, remarkable how quickly this stuff melts. I heard a lone goose this afternoon, flying over by the river; couldn’t see it in the trees, couldn’t tell if it was headed towards the river or away. I like having the geese fly over constantly, to and from the river. A couple of times we’ve seen them fly over at night, silently, against a moon bright sky. Now they always remind me of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils, by Selma Lagerlof (author of the always popular Saga of Gosta Berling.) We have a wonderful old edition of the Nils book, with beautiful illustrations by Mary Hamilton Frye. I’ve tried a bit to track down information on Mary Hamilton Frye, but haven’t found very much. Apparently she did the illustrations on her own, by special commission, for the Houghton Michigan Library. I’ve contacted the Houghton Library to see what became of them, but apparently no one knows. Perhaps I’ll try again on that.


two pounds on the scale

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ahhh, the deep dark sea

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down the tubes

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Mailing tubes, waiting, like so many of us, for fulfillment.


The crowd at Ingebretsen’s, Lake Street, Minneapolis

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Ingebretsen’s is a pretty incredible place, especially if you are of Scandinavian descent. They have a great selection of all things Nordic, including sweaters, crafts, glassware, art, Tomte, and… meat. The place started off as a meat market in 1921, and still has a Very Popular meat market, plus a great gift shop, plus a sewing shop. Plus the friendliest people this side of Finland. (Or this side of Ireland, at least.)

Yesterday’s Phenology Note

Snow. Very pretty coming down. Cat tracks in the yard, and the sparrows on the birdfeeder are getting cross, because I think I have neglected the feeder for awhile. I better get out there. I did notice, today, about 5pm, that it’s lighter out there than it has been. The days are getting longer. This time of year, careful observers might note that pitchers and catchers are gathering up their gloves, caps, baseballs, bats, cleats, etc, and migrating south. Pitchers and Catchers are the first of the baseball players to migrate south in the spring, where they begin to prepare for the coming season. The “position” players will usually follow soon after. For baseball fans, this is as sure a sign of spring as there is.

honey of a little honey pot, from Christy Wetzig

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This is the sweet little honey pot we got from Christy Wetzig a few weeks ago at the Mill City Market, filled with the honey we got at the Market from Ames Farm. The honey pot is perfect. We love the shape and the peaked roof and the bees. The honey did not last long.


Yesterday’s phenological note:

Really, remarkably unchanged from the day before. Sometimes February is like that. I think we may have had a few seconds more daylight today than the day before, but it wasn’t a big enough difference to really matter. The dead leaves hanging on the grape vines over the windows seemed to be shivering in the cold wind, which some say is a sign of coming snow, while others say it’s a sign of a warming trend. Someone ought to do a study to settle this contentious issue. Whatever it may mean, the leaves were shivering, and the breeze did blow.

Panaderia San Miguel, Lake Street, Minneapolis

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Lake Street is a great street; so much diversity, so much great food and music, so many great people. Would this guy on the sign lead you wrong? I don’t think so! We’ve had a few items from this Panaderia, and they’ve all been good, but our favorites are the gingerbread pigs – el cerdo hecha de pan de jengibre. Muy bien. Me permito sugerir que usted compra dos o tres o cuatro o tal vez una docena. You won’t be sorry.

Today’s Phenological note:

I should change the name of this section to “Yesterday’s Phenological Note,” as I’m always running a day behind, but in any case, this is more of an astronomical note, really: yesterday we went to see a moving picture show, Walter Mitty. (Not bad. Better than expected.)  There were no clouds and the moon was big and bright and shining a nice light on all the snow, like a beautiful big LED in the heavens. But tomorrow is the full moon – sometimes known in the Northern Hemisphere as the Hunger Moon, Snow Moon, or Wolf Moon, but in 2014 known (here) as the St. Valentine’s Moon. Enjoy it with your special someone. Consider all the thousands of years it’s been up there, and all the other people that have gazed up at the full moon in wonder, pretty much the exact same moon you are looking at. Moses, Da Vinci, Black Elk, Georgia O’Keefe, Shakespeare, Cleopatra, Homer, Buddha, Robert Frank, Cesar, and Lou Boudreau, and you, all looking at that same old moon and wondering what it’s all about. And before that, all those dinosaurs and neandertals, and everything else. The moon was their friend too.

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deep in the ice-bound february of the soul

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The scene from one of our living room windows, as we lie on our couch. Waiting for spring. Waiting. Waiting.
I think that if I were in Moscow, I shouldn’t mind about the weather.

Today’s Phenological Update:

A slight warming yesterday and today, with dustings of snow. In the early afternoon yesterday I walked to the library, and kept a sharp eye peeled for phenology. I saw many small footprints, birds and squirrels and rabbits in the new fallen snow, but I did not actually see any birds or squirrels or rabbits. The sun was a silver ball up behind the clouds. A long-haired cat has been eyeing the sparrows in our yard as they take turns raiding the bird feeder. He’s a malevolent looking beast, perhaps tortoiseshell, but mostly black and wary, a shadow across the snow as he bolts whenever I come into the yard, vanishing like a ghost.
Not much for phenology today, I’m afraid.

guthrie at the guthrie

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The Guthrie Theater, in Minneapolis.

I’m not a fan of the new Guthrie, at least the exterior design. It seems self-important but dull, a dark box with a big attention-grabbing ramp sticking out towards the river, and other random features. Nice views from the inside, though, and the stages are great. And I like the big pictures of the playwrights and of Mr. Guthrie.

Today’s Phenological Note:

I heard on the radio a few weeks ago that our bitterly cold weather may be good for one thing: emerald ash borers are not well insulated, apparently, and extremely cold weather can kill off a goodly number of them. I noticed on MPR’s updraft blog that Embarrass MN has had 26 days this winter with temperatures of -30 or lower. And that’s probably not a record of any sort, since they don’t mention it setting any new mark. Just a bit colder than usual, perhaps, for them.
Today I noticed that our mail carrier is still deeply buried within his layers of dark blue insulation. It’s difficult in the winter to distinguish between the male and female mail carriers during the winter, as the dark blue coloration is the same in both, and other distinguishing characteristics become hidden by the extra winter coats.  Observant observers will observe them quickly shedding layers and slimming down as the days slowly warm up. It’s estimated that the average mail carrier  puts on 6 to 8 inches of insulation in the heart of the northern winter, but this winter coat is dropped quickly as the days stretch out.

nina’s coffee shop, from up in the crow’s nest

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I had coffee over at Nina’s last week; hadn’t been there in awhile, and we got the best seats in the house, at the balcony table. Nina’s is a nice friendly popular place on the corner of Western and Selby in St. Paul, in the Blair Arcade building. There’s a bookstore in the basement. What could be finer?


Today’s Phenological note:

Despite only having 28 days, February in Minnesota is the longest month of the year. I’m looking desperately for signs of Spring, but all I see are signs of the dead of winter. The snow, once white, is now taking on a grayish tone, flecked with detritus of city life. Alley ways are deeply rutted with blackish-gray ice, and dogs have stained every available corner. Our car is caked with road grime, and our hearts are in the ditch. The winter carnival is over. Totally over, and done. It’s fight for survival time.

Harp of Darkness

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This gentleman was playing his harp at the mill city farmer’s market, which during the winter is held in the commons area of the mill city museum, downtown minneapolis. It was a nice saturday morning at the market, we bought some honey and a beautiful pot to put it in, and stopped over at the nearby Izzy’s Ice Cream factory for a delicious bowl of cold. (What could we have been thinking? But it was good; coffee flavored cold, for me.)

Today’s phenological note:

I noticed today the many of the bare trees in our yard, the river birch and the ironwood, and the dogwoods, were actually shivering in the cold wind. It was brisk out there. For a brief moment I thought I heard a grey squirrel’s teeth chattering, but then realized that it was me. Several sharp-eyed observers saw a bald eagle flying over Lake Street yesterday, in the midtown area. Not sure what he was doing there, though perhaps he was wondering the same thing about me?

joy world mission church – 17th St. S., near Lake Street, Minneapolis

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Built in 1900; a quick little internet search tells me nothing about this old church, which kind of makes me sad. People were married here and buried here; where have they all gone? Yet another project. What’s the story behind this old place?  I like the brick work up along the peaked roof line; something about that says Scandinavia to me, but what do I know? But it looks like a bit of the old country, finding a place in the new world, the new century. Another project for the list of projects.

Church update:

Best guess so far is that this once was St. Luke’s (Norwegian) Lutheran Church, listed in the 1915 Minneapolis City Directory:

St. Luke’s (Norwegian)—17th av S, bet
Lake and 31st. Rev C. S. Morgan, pas­
tor. r 3319 18th av S.

Today’s Phenological note.

A wee bit warmer today, and cute little thoughts of spring came nosing out of the darkness to see what the situation was. They blinked and squinted in the sunshine, and stretched their limbs a bit, but then the clouds came and a fairy dusting of snow and they scurried back inside, their tails between their legs. “See you in a couple months!” they said, and then they were gone.

Rapunzel, south minneapolis

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I found this little gal high up in the garret of a south minneapolis library. It could only be Rapunzel. Though her hair, I thought, would be longer. And less purple.
These little free libraries are popping up all over the neighborhood. A nice thing. And I’ve gotten several good books from them, and donated a few as well.

Today’s Phenological Note:

Unremittingly cold weather is dull, and wears a body down. I have not heard any Cardinals singing their spring song for several days now, and no wonder. Somebody jumped the gun, there, I think. Wishful thinking, I suppose. Can’t be blamed for that.

Friedman’s, North Minneapolis

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There’s some beautiful old buildings in North Minneapolis. This is one of them.


Today’s Phenological Observation:

California Condors were seen over South Minneapolis yesterday, high in the sky, riding the thermals. A highly unusual sight, this time of year. Though, come to think of it, it was about -4 or so yesterday, with a -20 wind chill, so there probably weren’t really any thermals. Which makes this very unusual indeed! And what’s the opposite of a thermal? A chiller? Anyway, they were quite a sight, way up high in the bright winter sky, pretty much right in the sun, so it was really hard to get a good look at them. Condors are known for that. Very difficult to see them in Minnesota, this time of year. You pretty much have to be looking for them.

victory is ours

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Here’s a picture of the menu board at the Victory 44 restaurant in Minneapolis. We went over there in December for a meal. The menu options were a bit confusing, and the whole place is rather meatcentric. However, they did have a three or four non-meat items, (two of them being fish, i.e., still mostly meat) and the wait staff was super helpful, and the food was absolutely delicious, and yet reasonably priced. And they had a delicious beer, Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, mighty fine indeed.

Today’s Phenological note:

With the cold weather we’ve been having, many are finding it difficult to get out doors, which rather limits phenological observations. Those who have sufficient gumption to peer out of their frost-etched windows at the world beyond, though, may note that the Maples, the Ironwoods, and the Dogwoods don’t have anything going on with them, nowt a bit, February though it may be. Keep watching the trees, though, as the famous line goes from the movies. Keep watching the trees. They know what they are doing.

a last little bit of festivus

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It’s been awhile since I last downloaded pictures from my camera – here’s a shot of festivus lighting. Kind of puts me back in the spirit. I’m ready to air some grievances.

Today’s Phenological Note:

Patient and persistent observers may notice many of the smaller varmints walking, hopping, or otherwise moving backwards during the snowy winter months, as they attempt to deceive predators as to their actual paths through the snow. It is very difficult to catch them in the act — it usually requires many minutes of careful observation from a hidden vantage point. In fact, more often than not, an animal’s trail through freshly fallen snow leads in the exact opposite direction from the animal’s true path. While most predators have caught on to this simple ploy, the predators also know that the prey knows that the predators know, and so you will often see a predator ignore a trail entirely, rather than trying to out-think the wily prey. Careful observers may notice a bit of annoyance on the predators’ faces as they walk away from the problem. Other times the predator will pretend that he just doesn’t even see the trail.