Category Archives: Weather

Say It Ain’t “Snow”

I moved to Minnesota in 1974 and at the end of my first Minnesota winter, it snowed 11″ on April  8.  At Carlton we celebrated by having a snow sculpture contest on The Bald Spot.  So I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked that it’s snowing right now.  But really?

What trend are you just finished with?


Sew Buttons on Your Underwear

Forty years ago I gave myself a quest: to photograph MY North Shore, the stretch from Flood Bay to Silver Cliff, or as locals called it then, Silver Creek Cliff. Because I had use of a darkroom, it was at first all done in black and white, or perhaps with some sepia toning, or duotone effect, or Sabattier effect. Flood Bay back then was not the mass of concrete and curbs and cables it is now. It was then as it is now one of the very few official state wayside rests. Despite that, back then it was just a gravel patch with some posts to keep people from driving into the lake, which every so often people still managed to do. Locals routinely hauled away lake stone and gravel for their use, which left no dent on the amount on the shore. Also, then there was no monstrous resort along the shore. And Silver Cliff was a road, not a tunnel. The pictures I framed in simple shadow boxes without glass. I hung them on our knotty pine living room wall. (More about that later.)

The winnowing process of history to our benefit has eliminated most of the pictures. A few exist in my computer, taken from the negatives. My goal was to push pictures to expressionism. Often with high or low contrast.


One picture that I took in the remnants of a lumber mill a quarter mile from Betty’s Pies was our Christmas card picture.

Sometimes good fortune favored me, when it disfavored elsewhere with a massive storm.

A few I have drawn in graphite or pastel, often doing some adjustment of reality.

One sad picture remains, even though I did not frame it. How did history not winnow this poor picture out? It must be a sign, must it not. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)

When this picture first appeared in the developing fluid, my first thought was it not worth making anything of it. My second thought was that here indeed was a sign. It must be from God giving me my life’s quest. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.) It could not be just random change. I was, in fact, until recently quite good with needle and thread, which my mother taught me at an early age, despite long sideways glances from my father.

I am sad to report that I never did discover how to fulfill the quest. Sigh. And now my chance is lost. Sigh. But I did fulfill one smaller quest and quite by accident. An undisciplined boy a year older than my son lived down the road from us. He was often in our house as small boy but not later. His teens were much troubled, as were his twenties. Now he is a brilliant photographer. I mean that. Does amazing work in the camera and in his computer. Travels the worlds. Makes a good living. Has a happy life. Most of his work is of the North Shore. He is friends with both of my children on facebook, where he told them that his inspiration came from looking at those photographs on our wall. To think such beauty came from such a shriveled seed!

Did you find a life’s quest? How has it gone?

Colorful Sunday

Last Sunday I had lunch with a friend – tried the new St. Paul Bagelry that has opened up near my house. I had a Reuben bagel sandwich (vegetarian version) – something I’d never even heard of before.  It was messy but yummy.

Laura and I weren’t quite ready to go back to our chores and regular life so at the spur of the moment we headed over to the Como Zoo and the Conservatory. We weren’t the only ones – it was a busy day at Como.  The spring show at the sunken garden is all purple and yellow – one of my favorite combinations and we also wandered through the hothouses looking for orchids and then inspected all the bonsai. It was a good way to spend a dreary afternoon.

Since I had to figure out how to make a slideshow out of a gallery this week to showcase Edith’s wonderful photos, I thought I’d try it again with some of my Conservatory pictures (not in Edith’s league but at least colorful).

When have you learned a new trick?

My Day Trip

Today’s post is by littlejailbird.

Until last fall, I had never been to Banning State Park. I had driven by it dozens of time, because when I head up to my sister’s house, I always turn off 35W and take Highway 23 into town. I didn’t know much about Banning, but when I was looking for a day trip, it seemed to fit my needs perfectly.

First, I wanted a park where I could drive there and back in one day without getting too tired. Second, I wanted a park that didn’t involve driving several back roads, because I knew that I would be driving in the dark due to the shorter fall days and my night vision and sense of direction is bad enough that I would get lost unless I kind of knew where I was going. And third, I wanted a state park because I had a state park sticker and wanted to use it as much as possible to get my money’s worth out of it. Banning fit all of those qualifications. Plus it has a waterfall, which is a big plus in my book.

So, off I went, one sunny morning in October. When I arrived, I stopped at the visitor center to get maps and ask where the best spots were. I was so excited. It seems that often when I go north, I am early for the fall colors and often find myself driving home just a few days before “peak”  and this time I was not too early! I said something about that to the woman at the desk (while trying to not jump and down in excitement) and she shook her head woefully and told me in a discouraging tone, “You’re going to see LOTS of brown out there.” Gee thanks, way to burst my bubble.

Of course, since I drove all the way up there, I figured I better go on the hike anyway even if I would see mostly brown. I drove to the parking area and when I stepped out of the car and looked up, I knew it was going to be a good day (see header photo).

I hiked all the way to the falls and back and shot lots of photos. It was an incredibly beautiful day: that clear, deep blue sky that you only seem to see on autumn days and – surprise! – lots of colorful leaves on the trees. It can be a challenge shooting in bright sunlight, but I was so overcome by the beauty of it all that I just took that in my stride. There was that wonderful northwoods smell in the air – pine trees and dead leaves. Nothing like it! and nothing else invigorates me like that does.


It was getting pretty cool and the sun was going down quickly by the time I was heading back on the trail but the golden evening light only made things more beautiful and the colors more intense. I went home pleasantly tired and very happy and glad that the woman’s prediction of “lots of brown” wasn’t true.


When has someone’s dire predictions not come true for you?

Spring Dreaming

By coincidence I work with the wife of Joel Karsten, the father of straw bale gardening. When I first got interested in straw bale gardening, it was Karsten’s book that I turned to. I’ve even been to hear him talk.

He has a new book out now and this led to a conversation with his wife in the hallway at work about getting started with bale planning for this summer.

YA and I have discussed cutting down a bit – doing just tomatoes and basil. The bales are a lot of work and we live in such a farmer’s market-rich environment that fresh vegies are always right at hand.  But I do love tending to the tomatoes and basil, so I won’t be able to give those up.  We’re still considering chives but YA’s dog can’t stay away and I had to replant one of the chives plants several times last summer; that plant didn’t do too well.

I realize that I don’t really have to be making these decisions right now, but it feels a little like fantasy daydreaming while I wait for spring.

What keeps you going as the last weeks of winter play out?

Hello, Spider

As I was waking up this morning and staring at the ceiling, I saw a brown spot start to move. I watched the spider crawl along, defying gravity with what I assumed were its eight “sticky paws”. Suddenly it wasn’t there, and I thought, “Uh-oh, now it’s on the floor and I have to kill it.” But I didn’t see it on the floor. I looked up and there it appeared on the ceiling again. I finally realized it was dropping down, either by accident or design, on a spinner thread, then crawling back up. It’s apparently building a web. Watched this until s/he went behind a blade of the ceiling fan, then I lost him/her. Now see it some days, not others.

You can tell it’s been a long winter when I’m so hungry for watching wildlife that a spider is a big deal. (I am, happily, not especially unnerved by them.) I started wondering:  how the heck do they stay up there, anyway? Went to the web, and found a site for kids under 10 years, called Ask a Grown-up:

“If you could take a really close look at a spider, then you would see that their feet are covered in tiny little triangular hairs. They look a little bit like paddles on the ends of stalks, and they give the spider a much bigger surface area. When the feet make contact with a wall or ceiling, they create a force – a temporary attraction between the bottom of the spider’s foot and whatever surface it’s on (the grown-up name for it is van der Waals forces).”

I see while searching that I’m not the only one curious about this. Here are other questions being looked up:

Can spiders die and still hang on the ceiling?

How do spiders walk on walls/ceilings without falling off?

Why would a spider spend days in the same place on the ceiling?

How do I get the spider off my ceiling?

How do you feel about sharing your home with critters?

What wild life are you looking forward to seeing as we edge (ever so slowly) toward spring?

Storm Tease

We are experiencing what must be the slowest moving snow storm in history. The NWS started talking about it early last week.  The arrival date has been pushed back, and the snow amounts moved up and down. We are in a  Blizzard Warning for now, with 6-8 inches predicted along with 50 mile an hour winds.

The grocery stores were packed Saturday with people stocking up before the storm hit.  The snow is only just starting.  At this rate, people will need to stock up again today since they probably ate everything they bought earlier!

Waiting for the storm is tiresome, and it seems that life is on hold for now. The power has gone off and on eight times in 30 minutes, so something must be happening out there. The cats are swiping at the snow flying past the windows.  They are better at waiting than I am.

The NWS folks out here must get pretty bored, since our weather doesn’t change all that much from week to week. When something big like our current stormdevelops, they really play it up, and by the time the storm arrives, it never seems to live up to the hype.

When has the weatherman fooled you?  Got any good storm stories?