Friday, December 31, 2010


Did I mention that I went to a Timberwolves game? I did. I'd never been to a professional basketball game before.
It was the campus Christmas party and we were in one of those fancy suites.

I had no idea there were cheerleaders for basketball games.

There was a guy cutting up a delicious slab of beef just for us (notice there is only a tiny bit left)

There were gifts - it was a $10 limit and many people were very clever.

Fun was had by all.

I really enjoyed it. Who knew? Helps that it's a fun group.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas 2010

Yes, we did celebrate Christmas and yes, I'm still here. I had limited computer time at home while Pato prepared for a trip to Chile so I'm behind, but I plan to catch up now.

The children decorated cookies the morning of the 24th
They fought a little. With chocolate. It was a mess. Everyone had fun and it's all cleaned up now.
The tree was properly dressed and there were lots of pretty packages underneath.
Some held bigger surprises than others.
There was lots of good food.
Good laughs.
Festive hair dressings.
Even grumpy types were having fun.
Pato will be prepared to stay warm while shoveling when he gets back from Chile.
We played a new game and it was loads of fun.

Coming soon: Frozen Minnehaha Falls and Soxanne's first Timberwolves game

Monday, December 20, 2010

Let it Snow

Over a week since I posted. What have I been up to? Well, there was a lot of shoveling after that last storm. Pato and Boy-child did most of it, but I was out there too. I took care of the path from the boulevard sidewalk to the street. Twice. Yes, folks, St Paul plowed twice for one storm; don't believe that ever happened before. And yes, it's snowing again today.
In fact, the last snowfall brought the roof down on the Metrodome, so they played a game in Detroit. Tonight's game will be played at the University of Minnesota campus in the open air. In the snow. Took them close to a week to shovel out the stadium and now it's snowing again. Glad I'm not going to be there, for a number of reasons.
We went to a rib place across the river with Susan last Saturday. We went to Cap's because there is a parking lot. There is no place to park in St Paul. Anywhere. The proprietor at Cap's was very pleased to hear that the snow brought us to his place. We then went to Susan's for a glass of wine and to admire her tree, which has an enchanting little village beneath it. Her dad made it in the 1930s (correct me if I'm wrong).
It has some lovely details.
I've knit a little bit.

And we finally decorated the tree, which we put up last week. The ducks ornament is Pato's favorite (those of you who took Spanish 101 know why). The tree skirt was made by Auntie. She is very talented.
Time to start wrapping. This is a box of ribbon and bags. The paper hasn't come up in full force yet.
Cards have started coming in.
And I found some wonderful cocktail napkins while shopping the other day.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

An Angel on the Block

I didn't take many pictures, given the fact that I spent a lot of time driving through the blizzard instead of walking, but here are a few shots from yesterday and today:
The Jag across the street. No room in the garage because of the boat and other toys.

The picnic table on our deck, which is pretty protected in spite of being on the north side of the house.

The neighbor's house. They are in Japan. Whoever was contracted to shovel didn't show up.

Last night after Boy-child finished the shoveling out front.

This morning out back. That's going to be one narrow path by March. Pato got a real workout.

It was, of course, a beautiful morning.

There were drifts in weird places, though.

Our street, which still hasn't been plowed.

The angel mentioned in the title is the guy in the duplex across the street. I went over to shovel the front for the neighbors who are in Japan since by 8pm no one had showed up (still). The guy next door brought over his snowblower WHICH WAS THE MOST AWESOME SNOWBLOWER I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE! He is my new best friend. The neighbors' house no longer looks uninhabited.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snowy Adventures Continued

Well, whatever you do, don't go out there. At least, not in a car.

Boy-child and I hopped in the car and set out to Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis to get him to work. He learned how to push a car up an alley to get to the street today. Good lesson, I say. It was treacherous but passable until we got to the Riverside Ave exit on the interstate. There was a wall of snow blocking the exit ramp. Did they forget to plow it or could they not see it? What could we do but continue to Cedar, get back on the interstate going east and exit Riverside from the other direction. Success!

I did not rent any movies as I was unwilling to stop, making Boy-child hop out of the car in the middle of Franklin Avenue.

Then there was the question of how to get home. Franklin was pretty clear, so I continued to River Road, which is a snow emergency route. Unfortunately, it was only plowed to the border. St Paul hasn't gotten to it yet. Surprised? No, I'm not either. I made it back to Highland and decided to go to Lund's parking lot since I was obviously never going to make it back down the alley.

Lund's parking lot is not clear. Oops. I think this is a first. I know I've done that trick at least twice before.

So there I was, in my car, no streets plowed, nowhere to park .... what to do, what to do?

And then, an epiphany. The ramp! There's a ramp at Lifetime Fitness across the street from Lund's.

I don't care what it costs. I just hope I can get to the bookstore by 7:00 tomorrow morning.

Today's Snowy Adventures

Ha ha ha ha:
Ironically enough, a celebration in St. Paul of the 20th anniversary of Will Steger’s International Trans-Antarctica Expedition was cancelled because of the weather. His six-member team, from five other countries, endured bitterly cold temeratures and whiteout conditions on their way to the South Pole in 1990. Sound familiar? posted by: Bob von Sternberg blog post link here.

There's nothing I like better than a good snowstorm. This is no surprise to those of you who know me. Today we're having a whopper. Some are calling it "The storm of the century" but frankly, they say that so often that it doesn't mean anything any more. For previous snowy posts go here here here and here.

At any rate, I was scheduled to work in Brooklyn Center today, so off I went. Campus was open but not many folks showed up. An hour later it was decided we would close. I drove home. One co-worker emailed me, was shocked to find out I was on campus and asked, "Do you have four-wheel-drive?" to which I responded, "No, I'm from Minnesota." She's Australian born (we all have our cross to bear, don't we?).

So I came home, made a hearty breakfast and fed Boy-child and Pato. Now I have stuff to do before taking Boy-child to work, which means there are more snowy adventures to come.

I will say that I am ever so happy that Girl-child and I went to get a tree last night.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Random Acts of Culture

One of my aunties who lives in Florida sent me this recently:

I've never been a religious person, but I did used to be a musician of sorts. This song pretty much always brings tears to my eyes. I has to be one of my favorite pieces of music ever.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Charming Encounter

I had the most charming encounter with an older man this morning in the bookstore. He looked lost, so I approached him and asked, "Is there something I can help you find?" to which he replied, "Oh, no, thank you. I'm just looking for my bride."


Thursday, December 2, 2010

December 2nd

Sometimes I feel like the past year has gone by so fast it's just a blur. Then I think to myself, hey, that happened in 2009 too.

On Monday (Monday it was still November) I was switching an appointment for later in the week. When the receptionist said something about December 3rd I said, "No, it was for this week" to which she replied, "This week is December"

Right. I knew that.

Can't really say what's been keeping me so busy, but I've been busy. Work at both places is going well. I enjoy the difference in the pace and the purpose between retail sales and academia. I've done a little shopping. I've made some Christmas cookies. Today I brought up the Christmas stockings, the music and the movies (I'm so excited! I hadn't remembered that we have Muppet Christmas Carol on DVD but there it was. Have I mentioned in the past that I love that movie? Gonzo as Charles Dickens cracks me up almost as much as Wishbone playing Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice).

I've also been knitting a little bit. I have a sock in progress (no photo). I have this scarf. It's a reversible cable:

And I have this sweater, which is pretty close to done:
I don't knit Christmas gifts - can't take the pressure - so I've been taking my time, doing what I can when I have the chance and enjoying it. Can't complain about that.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

le week-end

We had a special guest for Thanksgiving, which was fun.
The paella turned out and the bread was delicious.
He's looking kind of guilty here, in front of the empty pan, don't ya think?

It's been quite a leisurely weekend. I may have failed to mention before now that my Life of Leisure is over insofaras I got a temporary, part-time job at a local bookstore to earn a little extra cash. This means I am working more than 20 hours a week, but not a lot more. It's fun being at the other end of the book/information business, working in sales although working retail on Black Friday was kind of a trip. Honestly, I can't believe what people will do to save $5 but, whatever. The only thing I bought on Black Friday was food. (I worked from 6am 'till 10am so no big deal).

We went and saw a couple of movies over the weekend. The new Harry Potter movie was fun, if a bit sad at the end. I'm looking forward to seeing the second half, and I also plan to watch them all over again (we own the first six) since they're fun and it gives me a lot of knitting time. Last night Pato and I went to P.F. Chang's for a lettuce wrap and calamari dinner before seeing Fair Game. I didn't follow the Valerie Plame story much as it was happening, given that any news related to W and Iraq upset me no end back when he was in the Oval Office. It still upsets me, actually, but the movie was good. I would recommend both.

Also, did you know that Rupert Grint (a.k.a. Ron Weasley) chose A Clockwork Orange for his ALA Read poster? What a naughty boy! Bet a lot of folks are unhappy about that one...makes me giggle just thinking about it.

For my part, I am reading The Enchantress of Florence which I have had sitting around for ages but picked up and started only last week. It's great.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


There are lots of things to be thankful for today and every day. I'm not going to make a list, but I will mention a couple of things.

Today I am particularly thankful for Auntie, who gave me "permission" to take leftovers to my mother instead of taking her out to a restaurant, as we have done the past two years. It snowed yesterday and today it is unusually cold. And icy. Not only would it have been impossible to take my mother out today, I would not have been prepared to cook, and so it would have been a bit of a disaster.

I am also especially thankful today for my quirky family, who have requested paella for Thanksgiving dinner. Pato is not big on turkey, and Boy-child doesn't care for poultry in general. Over the years we have done many non-traditional things for Thanksgiving; paella has been a favorite, apparently. So that's what we're cooking today.

Now, a story. We have the (bad) habit in this household of always forgetting something, usually a crucial ingredient, when we're making special or unusual meals. This morning, at about 4:30 (what was I doing awake, you ask? It's a regular thing. They say it's a function of age), I realized that we hadn't purchased French bread. Paella is incomplete without a baguette. So when I got up a couple of hours later I dug through the freezer (just in case - but alas, no French bread hidden there). So I started thinking about how I could procure some French bread on Thanksgiving morning, when absolutely everything is closed.

Suddenly, an epiphany.

Many years ago, in the Dark Ages, when I was a teenager, I worked at Sofitel. Hotels are always open. Sofitel had a bakery. I called. The bakery is still there and open 'till noon. Off I went.

Now I'd just like to mention that on the way I saw what looked to be a homeless man on the Ford bridge. He looked cold. Maybe he wasn't homeless, but he was very definitely down and out. Less than a mile down Minnehaha Parkway I saw someone walking her dog. The dog had on booties to protect his paws from the snow and ice.

Just had to get that out. Back to the story.

In the Dark Ages, when I was a teenager working at Sofitel, there were two ladies who worked at the bakery, Rosie and Audette. Rosie and Audette were war brides; they came over with their G.I husbands who either fought in WWII or were part of the occupation. Rosie had a son, Jean Pierre, who was my age. This morning there were two women working in the bakery, just like the old days, except that instead of speaking French, they were speaking Spanish.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dinner Conversation

From The Nest - How to keep conversation at the Christmas (Thanksgiving) dinner table civil. And boring, imho.

We get it: You haven’t seen these people in months and you’re dying to share your views on everything from your tanking 401(k) to your cousins’ expanding waistlines, but keep the controversial talk to a minimum. Check out these eight topics to avoid at the dinner table -- you can thank us later.

(Un)healthy Conversation
Think you'll crack everyone up with a story about how your husband went all Man vs. Wild, which resulted in a nasty, burning rash in unmentionable places? Stop. No one wants to hear about any kind of bodily ailments while they're eating -- especially your husband’s mom.

Passive-Aggressive Suggestions
Your cousin and his wife know they’re a bit overweight. There’s no need for someone to casually drop hints about how Jessica Alba lost all that baby weight so quickly when they go in for that second helping of pumpkin pie. And, please, steer clear of your balding Uncle Bob who worked so hard to buy that Corvette -- he doesn’t want to be asked if he’s “compensating for something.”

Keeping the Past Alive
You know that saying, “We’ll look back on this and laugh someday”? Well, not so fast. Your cousin Bill probably doesn’t want to be reminded of his drunken date who broke your great-grandma’s gravy boat last year. Some things are better left in the past. Don’t rehash embarrassing or painful events for lack of anything better to talk about.

Ixnay on the Exnay
We’re all packin’ excess baggage from relationships past, but for just one night, don’t ask your brother what happened to that really nice girl he met in college when his fiancee is passing you the green bean casserole.

It’s the Economy, Stupid
Yeah, the economy sucks. Establishing Junior's college fund may seem like an impossible dream. Your 401(k) has disappeared. You really want to wipe all those smiles off your loved ones’ faces? If the answer’s yes, you have other issues that we don’t have time to address here.

Doing the Egg Toss
Children and grandchildren are a happy topic, we agree. Nevertheless, the statement “We’re trying to get pregnant” will evoke images of the two of you going at it (just think of everyone’s red-faced stares, smirks, or grimaces, especially if teenagers are present).

Leave Your Family out of It
Have you ever hosted a dinner party? You want everything to be perfect, right? Well, so does your mother-in-law. If you notice differences between your family’s Thanksgiving hoedown and hers, don’t say a word. No one needs to hear “My mother always makes the stuffing from scratch, but I guess I’ll have to get used to a mix from a box” after slaving over a dinner for 12 for days on end.

The Safety Zone
If and when the convo hits a lull, here are our favorite ways to score big:

Recent vacations
Funny characters at work
The delicious food
Winter/holiday plans
Sports (unless someone at the table is a diehard fan with a hot temper)
The weather
Apolitical movies/TV shows (prepare by catching up on Mad Men and 30 Rock)
And when all else fails: puppies!

-- Lauren Le Vine

Dec 25, 2009

Puppies? Seriously? Of course, maybe that's why my family doesn't get together for holiday dinners any more.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Play Tank Proposal

My thanks to Susan, who can hardly balance her checkbook and does not knit or crochet, for finding this and sending it to me.

It is awesome. Watch the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Changing Gears

Birthday season is now officially over.

Time to get ready for Thanksgiving.

And Christmas.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

North Face

Last night we watched an incredibly intense, fascinating movie about mountain climbing Germans and Austrians in Switzerland in the 1930s called The North Face.

Which got me thinking about the company, North Face; very popular here in Minnesota since they have quality winter gear (and camping too, if you're into that).

And then we woke up to the first snow of the season.

I went downtown on the light rail to breakfast with a friend who's in town from Denver.

Found it kind of funny that they have snowflakes on the light posts downtown. Hardly necessary.
Also made me chuckle when my friend mentioned The Mary Tyler More show.

Don't think she would have been taking off her hat this morning.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tree Hater

My family likes to make fun of me. One of my issues is trees. They say I hate trees.
Turns out this is simply not true. We do have a nasty, messy ash tree in the back yard that I dislike. With the Emerald Ash Borer in town, that tree will probably have to be taken down in 2-5 years. The neighbor has one of those trees that dumps the little helicopter seeds all over, which means we have saplings growing everywhere all the time. It's also very big and I fear that half of it will end up in Boy-child's bedroom during a storm. And the boulevard tree is a locust, which is a stupid tree with leaves that can't be properly raked. It's a tree that inspires people to use those horrible leaf blowers. I rake. And when I was raking the other day I discovered that we have a tree in the front yard that I really like. It's one of those maples that is pretty red all summer long, and then in the autumn when it turns color it's all different colors, depending on the time of day and the amount of sun and/or clouds.

So there, family. A tree I like. Maybe it's because I chose the tree myself. Maybe it's because we planted it when Girl-child was born 21 years ago. Dunno. It's pretty, though.