February 17

They've been having a heat wave out here in the Twin Cities with mountains of snow melting into people's garages including people such as Cynthia and Mike.

But not to fear, the forecast is for a precipitous drop, high winds, and plenty more snow while I'm here.
Cynthia picked me up at the airport, we swung by a take-out place, came home and ate that take-out so we could leave right away to take Kieran to his Kung Fu class.

Kung FU! The teacher was a charmer and had good patience and gentle/firm direction with the kids. It seemed on just one viewing that Kieran was getting all the right things out of it - respect, effort, community.
Kieran, enjoying himself completely sparring with the teacher.
Mike and Cynthia, Kieran in the middle.

Then we came home, they tidied up, got Kieran to bed, made up my guest room which is a palace, and now we're sitting on the couches in the living room each with our laptops on our laps, computing away.

Oh goodie, and what adventures might tomorrow hold?!
February 18

The view out the garage. Anything that looks like water is absolutely not, it's ice and you slide around on it as does your car.

I drove Cynthia to work...
...and then went for a short (very short) tour around a few side streets.

Why so very short? because according to the radio the temperature with wind/chill was SEVEN degrees. And I could only take so much. And it's on the way to colder too.
Silver Lake off Joy Road, nice, no ice houses though.

I did go to the Goodwill and chatted up a couple guys about what I should get for our journey north, to Ely and Ice Fishing. One guy said 'In my ice house we sit around in tee shirts.'
More from lakeside.
And more.
Then dinner and back to kung fu for our evening's entertainment.
February 19

It's party day - first stop, the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. Some history:

"In the summer of 2003, the City of Minneapolis was searching for a use for the long vacant Sears building on Lake Street. Latino business owners and neighborhood groups from the Phillips, Central and Powderhorn Park neighborhoods helped convince City officials that the historic building should be saved and, ultimately, connected to the ethnic diversity of the neighborhood and the entrepreneurial energy of the businesses on Lake Street."
Next Kieran and I went to the nearby Target to get party supplies like hats for example. It's going to be a birthday party and we need Hats!

Cynthia's birthday is Thursday and Saeed's birthday is Tuesday so we decided to make it a double festivity, party hearty!
Mike cooked, most of the day. He cut, chopped, ground, seared, stirred, the result being a fanTAStic 'Texas style chili'. The sauce had all the richness and complexity of a perfect mole, the meat was tender and soaked with flavor.

We ate it until it was gone.
The Party: Kristy, Saeed, Kieran, Cynthia, Mike, John, Phyllis.

(Kristy is Cynthia's dad's wife's daughter, Saeed is her husband, Phyllis is Mike's mom, John is her husband. How did Cynthia and Kristy both end up in Minnesota (of all places?)? One of those mysteries of life.)
Everything's all cleaned up and we're checking our email. When people say we look alike I always just say Thank You!

February 20

Last night we went to sleep with the certainty that the oncoming storm would have dumped at least 6 inches of snow overnight. But no. Not a flake.

I looked out the window expecting a blanket of white and instead was greeted by 4 or 5 wild turkeys just like on the bottle. I had to run upstairs for the camera and run downstairs to catch the shot - everyone was gone except this guy. Gobble gobble!
A while ago Cynthia and Mike bought us tickets to see The Gipsy Kings in Minneapolis tonight. We were all very excited to enjoy such lively entertainment.

But no. Although we got not a flake last night the forecast still is for a very significant storm with snow, high winds, sleet, and very thick ice on the roads. Mike just got an email, just now, saying the show was canceled due to weather. Bummer.

Looks like we're in for a snow-day as the flakes are now hitting big time. The cupboards are full of food, we have plenty of papergoods, the internet is humming along, so all is well.
Hi Kaitlin!

I took this picture with my phone thinking to just email it straight to Kaitlin, but it was tooo cute, and despite the fuzziness I want to look at it often.

White Out... a view from the upstairs window to the across the street neighbor.

We've been watching the snow not exactly 'fall'. Since the 30 miles an hour wind is moving the snow parallel to the ground the snow doesn't stop until it runs into an obstruction, hence the building of giant snow banks which I can't really see now because of the White Out.
February 21

What have I been doing today? Oh, not much. That's the view out the garage. I decided not to take the car today. .and it's still snowing.
So I've been enjoying myself looking out the windows from the cozy quarters of The House!
February 22

Another one from yesterday when we got the big storm.
This morning! Here comes the sun!
Later, but no.

I did go outside at least, and stood in the cold and thought hmmm, this is cold. And we went to Kung Fu with Kieran so I did change out of my jammies...

Tomorrow I am going to drive. We'll see how that goes. I told the story last year too about how Cynthia said that sooner or later everyone spins out. I am again determinedly hopeful that it be later rather than sooner for me.
February 23

Good morning! We've got spring-ish weather today in the 30s and the roads are cleared and ready for riding.

I took Cynthia to work and then took myself to breakfast at the French Meadow Bakery and Café, an internet recommendation near the Minneapolis Institute of Art. That's a snowbank made up of the snow from the road and the snow from the sidewalk. It is taller than I am.
You share the bathroom with a cow.

It was a very recognizable kind of place - delicious bakery goods, a huge menu of local-organic-homemade everything of breakfast and lunch items with a dozen business meetings going on at the tables littered with presentations and laptops.

The food was tasty too, and the coffee was delicious as advertised.
Then I made my way to the Minneapolis Institute of Art. What municipal museum is complete without it's giant Chihuly on display.
Another hanging piece you can view from the stairs.

I did move through at a stroller's pace, and I've been here before. I was especially struck by their collection of works from China, it's fantastic.
This was the major traveling exhibit, Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland. Wow, cool.
That's right, more Wild Turkeys. Every time I say Wild Turkeys in my head I hear the Stones version of the song about Wild Horses. Every single time. Even now. And now.
We went to a children's bookstore called Wild Rumpus occupied by 6 or 12 or so cats. Hi cutie!
"Hey, lookie here, I'm going to play with Hello Kitty sitting on Buddha's lap! Hey. Wait, it's mine, not yours. Oh fine."
You might ask yourself the same two questions I asked. 1) is that Christmas still up? and 2) what are chickens doing in a bookstore?
That's right, chickens. To play with the cats...
...and hang out on the book shelves with books about chickens.

They also had ferrets and chinchillas, parrots, doves, and probably more we didn't see because why not. I hope they're still here when we come back.
Dinner time! Famous Dave's, across the street from Wild Rumpus, and delicious it was.
On the drive back, the Minneapolis skyline. It's a city out here.
February 24

I went here to pick up part of Cynthia's birthday dinner!

It took some looking to find a sushi place within 30 minutes of the house, and it looked good enough but they get their fish 'from Chicago' and it pretty much tasted not so freshly flash frozen. .but it looked like sushi and Cynthia was happy to have it.
Cynthia's birthday flowers. And so who could resist giving this a try. Not me.

I stayed in today, the next day, since it snowed last night, it's literally freezing today, and I'm all about caution with the car, allowing me time for a hey-why-not messing about.
This is from a few nights ago.

We were playing a board game where Cynthia drew a card and her options were to sing and dance, make up a poem, or let someone draw glasses and a mustache on her face. She chose the drawing and Kieran was delighted to oblige.
Tomorrow, Saturday, we're heading up to Ely for our ice fishing adventure. Cynthia wanted a hat somewhat like this, which I got her for her birthday. Now I can NOT believe I didn't get the star to go with it! A star will have to be had.

Yes, I not so seriously messed with this one too.
February 26 7AM

We're getting ready to head out for Ely, MN, current temperature -29 fahrenheit although at -29 fahrenheit or centigrade it hardly matters it's so cold.

I don't know if we'll have internet at our place tonight so I might not get to ICE FISHING pictures until Sunday night or Monday. One thing, we're not going to get to cut a hole in the ice with a chain saw but other than that it should be classic Ice Fishing, just, I imagine, like being in an episode of A Prairie Home Companion.
February 26

Morning, out a window of Cynthia and Mike's place as we pack up for our Ice Fishing Expedition.
And on the road out the car window, four hours drive to Ely (pronounced Ee-Lee), Minnesota, due north from Saint Paul, and it's snowing.

For the time I've been here it's been interesting to note that even when you can't see even a hint of sky and even when the snow is actually coming down, still it's not so deadly dark. Maybe because the snow reflects back any hint of light? You can have a much darker two weeks in Seattle or Portland if you time it right, or that is to say wrong.
When we got to Ely it was a blue sky day, not as good for fishing we were informed by our guide Jim who picked us up and drove us to his fish house.

We are in Jim's gigantic truck driving across the frozen Shagwa Lake.
And here we are at our fish house...
...and, from later in the day, it was so so cold out there. SO SO cold - well below zero with wind-chill.
This picture is totally cute, but misleading. Inside it was actually Not cold and after the photo-op I gave Cynthia back her hat and soon enough I was down to my tee shirt.

Me, fishing from an easy chair. This is not misleading.

The rest of the 7x11 foot room from my chair. There's a fishing hole in each of the four corners.

Mike is updating his facebook with pictures as the day transpires. Cynthia is fishing by watching her bobber across the room for any sign of action. Jim is monitoring his fish-finder and jigging his line.

Pretty cush for Ice Fishing!
Mike and Cynthia.

We actually did have to bring all that gear for freeeeezing weather or we wouldn't have been able to go outside but when inside with the heater kicked in, we could make it as hot as we wanted. We were constantly turning the heater off when it got too hot and back on again when someone opened the door.
Jim and Mike.
A guy is bringing another fish house to the lake. He unhooked the truck and just cranked the house down, then drilled his holes from inside with a power auger, and his group was fishing.
With the arrival of the house on the trailer there were five fish houses in our little village. The houses tend to clump up wherever someone plows a trail. The guy who owns this place has a plow on one of those trucks and maintains the road himself.

Jim went over to see if we could come in for a look, which of course I wanted to do. It was at least a couple feet longer and a foot or so wider than Jim's, and attentively appointed inside including a generator for the satellite TV for watching non-stop sports, finishing for the fish holes, and a thick rubberized floor over the plywood.

Four big guys were in there, smoking and drinking, and going in was like entering a smoke house. Yikes. They wouldn't have to cook fish, just leave them out. They hadn't yet made much of a dent in those two cases of beer...
...but the rum and coke was about done. And those curtains!
Me, coming in from the cold. Doesn't it look arctic out there.

Back home, Mike, fishing from the side of the couch.
The evening arrives...
...with the setting sun.
The ooo-la-la fish house across the way lights up for the last of the guests and we are about to leave. (btw They bank up the snow against the house for insulation.)

What have you not noticed, what is most prominently missing in this tale of an afternoon Ice Fishing? FISH, that's what you have not noticed because we did not catch even one single fish between all four of us. Oddly, I wasn't minding. Catching fish it seems is about as likely as winning the lottery.
And I choose to believe what Jim told us when he handed over this baggie of lovely fresh looking walleye fillets, from 'fresh' walleye he 'just' caught and brought along because he wanted to be sure we got our fresh fish dinner.
And it WAS delicious! Cynthia made up these recipes and cooked the fish and YUM-EEE!
Evening in our cozy two bedroom motel room with a big and well furnished kitchen for our dining convenience. It was an excellent day of Ice Fishing. Garrison Keillor would be pleased.
February 27

We arose at our leisure, ate what there was, packed up, brushed the foot of snow off the car and headed out to see if we could catch anything of the dog-sled races. Looks like they all left a good long while ago!
Then we went to the Grand Ely Lodge where we could get a shot of the lake we were fishing on yesterday.
Right off the highway in the small town of Cloquet we find The R.W. Lindholm Service Station, the only gas station built from a Frank Lloyd Wright design.

"Built in 1956, its design is derived from the Broadacre Standardized Overhead Service Station which was designed as part of the Broadacre City project in the 1930s. .and the only part of Frank Lloyd Wright's Broadacre designs that made it into reality."
That's me up in the waiting room with Cynthia reflected. Thanks Mike!

February 28

Mike's mom Phyllis and I went out today. We had lunch and then visited the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. The temperature was high 20s, so bright and cheery I wore my own windbreaker today instead of the usual, Mike's Minnesota winter coat.
They have a newly opened polar bear habitat and I really wanted to see some polar bears in the snow, maybe even swimming in the pretend sea instead of whacking around ice cubes like they do in LA.

They had two HUGE polar bears but they weren't in the snow or the pretend sea. One of them was lolling on his back in a dry sunny spot out of sight lines for the camera, catching some rays and the other one was in a cozy cave with a big straw bed, sawin' zzs.

So I took a picture of the poster on the wall.
Hi guys.

It was a cute little place. Most of the animals were moved out for the winter.
The Conservatory part of the Zoo and Conservatory was lovely too. There were several sections including a rain forest, a fern grotto...
...and the sunken flower garden.
You can imagine how it smelled in there!
The outside of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory first opened in 1915 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
March 1

I got to go to other people's work today, an outing I always enjoy. Other people's work. (I've also got some pictures of Cynthia's work on my phone which I might not get to tonight.)

Kristy and I met for lunch and then she took me for a fascinating guided tour of the projects she's developed in her capacity as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota.
For example, she's working with this...
...and this too. And many more such studies.

If you want to get the drift of what Kristy's doing you can ask Ms Wiki what she has to say about Kristy's advisor, Philip Zelazo. You'll have to read it twice. .at least.
A view of the city from campus.

I haven't put this link in yet to my 2008 visit to Minneapolis. I was bent on tourista during that trip so if you want to see more of the city and its attractions you can find it here.
...I like it!
Here are a couple snaps from Cynthia's work. And then in the morning I'm off to Home Sweet Home, current temperature - 70 degrees.
HomeUSA the Middle • Minnesota • '11 Feb: Saint Paul, MN, and Ely

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