Category Archives: Weather

Winter Attitude

Most of the people I know are thrilled to get a few days of above freezing temperatures at this time of year. Not me.  I chose this climate.  My family visited relatives in northern Wisconsin quite often when I was a child and I always knew I wanted to live here.  I chose a college because it was in Minnesota and after wasband finished grad school in Milwaukee, we headed to Minneapolis even though neither of us had jobs yet.

I don’t mind the cold – until I lose my winter attitude. Once we have some warmer weather, my body decides that it’s ready for spring, a return to shorter sleeves and flip flops.  Then the cold weather DOES get to me.  So even if it’s 35 degrees out, I’m still wearing my gloves and big knitted scarf and pretending Mother Nature is still bringing on the chill.  Once my body has made that transition, there is no going back!

How do you handle the last weeks of winter?


Faulty Sidewalks

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown.

A couple of weeks ago our neighbor, while out walking her dog, went down on glare ice – that sort of fall where you are suddenly flat on your back staring at the sky, and don’t know how the he** you got there. This was worse than usual though, as she cracked her skull on the ice. Pamela actually passed out for a bit; there was a lot of bleeding, a trip to the ER, and a concussion. She’s almost back to normal now, but is taking an afternoon nap (which is tricky at work), and was told she must not hit her head again. Just saw her (carefully) walking the dog for the first time today.

Traveling on foot is particularly treacherous in this season, due to a lot of melting and freezing. And here in Winona, we keep getting a new dusting of snow, which is fine in some places but hides the ice in others. I fell last week after a concert, because of an uneven sidewalk that wasn’t really visible – “just” went down on my knees, but was OK mostly.

Have you had any really bad falls, either out- or indoors?

Got any tips for prevention?

Trail of Ice

I’ve written here before about my fond memory of ice skating on the Iowa River north of town, early in the winter before it became completely snow-covered. My dad would tell of following “their” creek for miles as a kid. Once you’ve skated a distance like that, a rink no longer seems very romantic.

Enter Minnesota’s first Ice Skating Trail, in the Northwest Minneapolis suburb of Maple Grove. From the December 2017 AAA Living magazine: “Lampposts offer a warm glow, and the surrounding trees’ white twinkle-lights brighten both trail and mood.” I imagine skating there at dusk, as the sun goes down.

One of only a few in North America (see also Chicago and Toronto), it’s an 810-foot loop that feels “more like a stroll in the park” than the laps you skate at a traditional ice rink, according to Minneapolis Northwest, a regional newsletter(For reference, a regular hockey rink has a 570’ lap.)

You can skate earlier in the season (and later) than most outdoor rinks, as the trail is refrigerated and maintained by a Zamboni. There is skate rental (and concessions like hot chocolate and popcorn) during Central Park’s warming pavilion open hours, but park benches are available anytime for putting on your own skates.

I would have loved to have this nearby when I was still skating.

What will get you out of doors this winter? 

Would you like to try driving a Zamboni, or some other heavy machinery?




My company closed early today so I got home about 2. I barreled up the snowy driveway to discover that YA wasn’t home.  When I called her, she said she was at her boyfriend’s house. I told her she shouldn’t wait too long to come home as the roads were terrible.  She said “his house is only 5 minutes from ours”.  Well, there’s no arguing with THAT, is there?

Fast forward 2½ hours and the phone rings. It’s YA saying she’s stuck at the bottom of the driveway and asking what to do.  I told her to get a shovel, clear out all around the tires and up the driveway a bit.  Despite thinking it was her bed and she should lie in it, it didn’t take long before I coated up and went out to help.  At about that time our neighbor came and helped as well.  YA didn’t really know how to rock the car so I took over, but to no avail.

Neighbor and I decided I should back out onto the street, go around the block and approach the driveway from the north so I could get up some speed. Of course in the crush of traffic, this maneuver took almost 20 minutes, but it did the trick.

When we got back in the house I said “you know I will never be able to resist saying I told you so?” She kinda grinned and said “I know.”

Anybody gotten to say “I told you so” lately in your life?

The Hat

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

I received this hat as a Christmas present a few years ago. I thought it was the dumbest hat ever. The earflaps? Man, what a dork. I put those down and immediately make the “L” on my forehead.

And the lights on the bill? What’s up with that. And camo?? I don’t do camo. I don’t own anything camo.

But ya know…. It’s come in handy. Cold as it’s been, those ear flaps are invaluable.

And the lights, well, that saves me from holding the flashlight in my mouth. Because sometimes I drop it in the chicken pen and then I do actually hesitate for a couple seconds before I put It back in my mouth figuring a little dirt never hurt anyone. But that hat. I groan everytime I put it on and I’m thankful that it keeps my ears warm.

In his book, “Semi True”, Russ Ringsak says, “I couldn’t blame nature for trying to murder me but I wished she wasn’t in such a hurry.” Yeah, really. Does it have to be this cold?

You know it’s cold when I get this many water bucket stumps piled up.

I’ve got a small outside water tank with a tank heater in it. I put the frozen water buckets in there while I put out corn (which is supposed to be for the chickens and ducks, but seems in the winter, only the turkeys and deer find it.) After doing the corn, I can just dump out the ice from the buckets, refill, and take back to the chickens. They don’t actually drink much. The 50 chickens drink maybe a gallon per day.

Meanwhile, my ducks that won’t come eat this corn, some of them, the ‘wild’ ones, are down in the pond.

I know it’s cold when the pond gets ice on the edges. The water comes from springs, through the pipe, under the ice at the top of the picture.

Although since the hawk got a duck in the pond last week, I don’t put corn out there anymore. And the ducks aren’t that interested in going over there anyway.

This is Humphrey being curious about the hawk. Humphrey is very curious about everything.

Ever gotten a gift you don’t like yet still find valuable?

Fond Memories

The Child I wrote about in “Child-Proofing” in December has come and gone (almost two weeks ago by now). Our schedule pretty much revolved around hers for 4 ½ days. We read stories, ate together, watched short videos my sister (her grandma) had brought, and she played with misc. items when sitting in the booster seat at the table, which was one of her favorite places – it was like her “office”. We got out the rhythm instruments and found she loved dancing to a good beat.

We tried to get things done while her daddy put her down for naps. She pretty much respected the boundaries I’d created (cloth hiding shelves, etc.), and we showed her which cupboards had the pans she could play with, and where “her” corner was, complete with a doll napping in a crate-bed – modeling behavior we hoped to see! She spent quite a lot of time at the kitchen sink “washing” dishes.

Unfortunately it was quite cold the entire time, so we didn’t do much outdoors. We bundled up for outings to visit Great-grandma Hope every day, and went out to eat once.

Although I am mostly relieved to have my life and my house back, I kind of miss the little tyke. But am glad we have some photos to show my mom, to jog her memory about who was here and why.

What’s your fondest memory of someone who has visited you?

Today’s post comes to us from Occasional Caroline.

I don’t really have a bucket list, but for quite a while I’ve thought it would be delightful to see the cherry blossoms in Washington DC. It’s tough to predict when to be there, but last year I thought I had it nailed. I found a website ( ) that predicts and tracks the probable peak bloom days for the annual display. Without knowledge of this website, you probably do not know that there is an “indicator tree” that helps the National Park Service fine tune the prediction of Peak Bloom. For reasons too complicated for me to comprehend, one particular tree hits stage one of the 6 stages of blossom development nearly 2 weeks before the all the rest; the others usually follow on a predictable timetable. Usually, but not in 2017. 2017 was not a typical year in DC, on many levels.

The latest information and forecasts on when Washington DC’s cherry blossoms around the Tidal Basin will reach peak bloom in Spring 2018.

But I digress. In late February, due to a very mild winter in the nation’s capital, the indicator tree indicated that the 2017 bloom would possibly be the earliest in history and particularly spectacular. The original prediction was March 10-13. The earliest ever recorded was March 15, the latest, April 18, and average somewhere around the last week of March to the first week in April. The whole show lasts 1-2 weeks, from buds to petals on the ground and green leaves on the trees; and peak lasts 2-3 days. That time frame was particularly convenient for us to take a trip last spring, so the planning began. We decided to leave on March 11, the day after our granddaughter’s 7th birthday party. We hit the road (yes, we drive on vacations) early Saturday morning, heading east. The plan was to be in DC from the 13-15 and then spend a week in the Williamsburg area. Day one was going well until we started hearing reports of the cold snap hitting the East coast. The NPS started pushing back the prediction for peak cherry blossom bloom. Suddenly the buds were encased in ice and it might possibly be the first no-bloom year in history. Peak, if there was to be one, would be at least a week later than previously predicted.

Time to rethink. Go to Williamsburg first, spend the week there and go to DC on the way home. Good plan. No problem changing reservations, peak Williamsburg season and peak cherry blossom season do not correspond. Remember the cold snap hitting the East coast. Yep, that includes Virginia. We weren’t looking for Florida weather, but 20s? Blustery, frigid winds? For days? We made the best of it, we went to the attractions that were open; most opened April 1. We were there March 13-20. We had a good time in Virginia and there was going to be at least a 50% of normal blossom “peak” on March 25, it was now March 20 and time to leave Williamsburg. Husband had been fighting off some insidious eastern US disease for a day or so, but seemed to be winning. It wasn’t peak yet, but this might be the closest we’d ever get, so we scheduled a Cherry Blossom bus tour of DC for the next day, that would require getting up pretty early, but we could handle that. Right? Nope. The illness won during the night and a feverish, achy, mess of a man was not going to make it from Williamsburg to DC and enjoy a bus tour that day. Well medicated and much later than our original plan, we headed west without ever seeing a single cherry blossom.

I have a new cherry blossom plan in mind now. My chiropractor tells me that his uncle lived in Traverse City MI, which is known (at least in Michigan) as the cherry capital of the US. If they have cherries, they must have cherry blossoms, right? While checking it all out, I discovered that a shortcut to Traverse City is to go to Door County WI and take a ferry to Traverse City, thereby going across Lake Michigan instead of around it, and with a boat ride to boot. I’ll just look at pretty pictures of the DC peak, and head for Wisconsin next time I have a yen to see cherry blossoms.

Have you ever fought with Mother Nature?