Archive for the ‘Neighborhoods’ Category

Miss me yet?

Photo Credit Bob Collins of MPR.

Bob writes, The mystery billboard

It was late at night and I wasn’t sure I’d seen the billboard correctly as I whizzed past it on I-35 in Wyoming last week on the way back from Wrenshall. But an e-mailer confirms I saw what I thought I saw.

It’s beginning to sweep along the Internet, accompanied by various claims that it’s a Photoshop fake. But it’s not. It’s real.

There’s no billboard ownership plate on this particular billboard, making tracing the person who had the cash to post it difficult to find. It’s time to crowdsource this puppy.

*Update: Those responsible are revealed (sort of)

I’m pretty sure Dick Cheney is responsible.


Snowy SpongeBob

SpongeBobDon is just a dad who likes to play in the snow, so every year he makes a giant snow sculpture in his South Minneapolis front yard for his children, daughter Victoria (11) and son Donny (10).  This year Spongebob SquarePants on a big chair adorns his lawn and he was performing maintenance on him as I passed by on the way home from the US Pond Hockey Championships so I stopped to ask him about it.  If you would like to see SpongeBob he is just off the intersection of 52nd Street & 28th Avenue in Minneapolis.


Hand it over! – Holiday Traditions

The word Tradition comes from the latin root traditio which mean “handing over or passing on. It was a great song from Fiddler on the Roof. But when it comes to the holidays most of us have many traditions that make the season what it is, whether there are old ones or new ones that we have created over the years.  These traditions give us comfort and bring us together and help us to carry on our cultures.

Being the first generation American of Welsh parents many of our traditions are British.  Though after attending a Jewish preschool, Talmud Torah at the Temple of Aaron in St. Paul, we added lighting of the Menorah for several years too, though we no longer do that.

One of the traditions started when we were children still continues today, the Christmas Nightie.  Yes, my sisters and I all used to get matching nightgowns for Christmas, and now to this day, we get matching pajamas, and it has expanded to include my mother, my sister’s husband & kids, and my other sister’s boyfriend.  If we were all in a room together and had a picture taken it would be quite a sight!  The only rule is no flannels, too cliche’. I think the most funny was the year we got gold lame’ & black ones, hysterical. Sorry, not posting a picture though.

We decorate our Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.  All the ornaments collected over the 41 years my mother has been in this country come out of the boxes, including the ones each of us get from Santa in our stockings each year, come out and are placed on the tree.  No more room for plain ornaments on the tree. Along with those are the few antique ornaments my mother brought with her from Britain as well as the ones we have made over the year, well the ones that have survived a few basement floods, and cats and dogs toppling the trees.  It is quite a collection and the reminicing is always fun when each ornament is hung.

When we were children we used to put out a plate of cookies & milk for Santa Claus and sit by the fire to read Dylan Thomas’  “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” before bed (wearing our Christmas nighties).  Alas, with no more children in the house here, that tradition is no longer observed. More likely than not I am usually still up wrapping presents until the wee hours instead.

Christmas Morning it was always my little sister that woke everyone up first and we opened stockings first, which of course always had a tangerine in the toe.  The orange in the toe of a stocking is a universal tradition that symbolizes the gold left by St. Nicholas in the toes of the stockings of three girls that either saved them from slavery or gave them a dowry so they could be married, depending on which story you read.  The other must for our stockings is a Toblerone.  All of our stockings are handmade by my mother, petitepoint with our names on them, backed in red velvet.  They are hung on the mantlepiece and look so wonderful there.

Still wearing our Christmas nighties we then open presents, each of us with our own position in front of the tree that we have held for at least 20 years and we take turns opening the gifts from under the tree.  With the roaring fire next to us it is a fantastic tradition as we look out the picture window and watch the neighborhood awaken. Across the street we even get to vicariously watch our neighbors partake in their annual Christmas pinata tradition on the tree outside. After cleaning up any bags and wrapping paper it is time for the Christmas puzzle and breakfast!

SoldiersBecause the greatest traditions of holiday time involve food,  our family is no different. When we are decorating the tree on Christmas Eve we have a lovely steak dinner.  It wouldn’t be Christmas Morning without soft-boiled eggs and soldiers, which for the uninitiated, is toast cut into strips to dip into the gooey egg, and bacon, sauteed mushrooms and fried tomatoes.

For Christmas Day we now go to our family friend’s house for dinner surrounded by all their children grandchildren. They have three boys, we have three girls so it has always been a fun time to have our families get together.  Now with all the extended families and seeing the kiddie table recreated with their children instead of us is very fun.  And now instead of playing Atari or Simon we all are playing Wii after Christmas Dinner which includes Turkey, Green Bean Casserole and yummy pie for dessert!  I usually get called in to the kitchen to help make the gravy.

Boxing Day is the big day for us (the day after Christmas for you Yanks).  That is when we have our own traditional dinner that includes Bread Sauce, boiled carrots, brussel sprouts, mashed buttered parsnips, roast turkey draped with bacon for basting and stuffed with two kinds of stuffing, herb in one end and sausage in the other, roast potatoes. For dessert the Christmas Pudding of course, with brandied white sauce. 

Christmas pudding

When we were younger we used to help my mother start making the puddings in September in big laundry tubs. It is quite an undertaking involving suet, lots of dried fruit and lots and lots of booze including Guinness! We would stir and stir with big wooden spoons but inevitably would give up on that and just dig in with our arms. After several days of mascerating the puddings were ready for their molds and would get steamed so they would be ready for Christmas.  It is definitely an acquired taste, but the pudding contains either silver coins or silver charms, which are believed to bring prosperity in the new year, so getting a child to eat it isn’t that hard because they want to find the coins and, you can smother it in the white sauce too (made with vanilla instead of brandy for the kids).  The pudding is always brought to the table with a piece of holly stuck in the middle and the pudding is ablaze in a bath of brandy.  There have been a few close calls with too much brandy and burned holly, but it is usually quite a sight.

In earlier years my mother also used to make a Christmas cake, which is similar to a fruit cake, but iced in a layer of marzipan and then a layer of hard royal icing, and then a holiday or winter scene decorates the top. I still remember an elaborate skating scene on one that she made that included a mirror for the ice!


Of course no Christmas dinner or Boxing Day dinner in our house would be complete without Christmas Crackersxmas dinner. Not edible ones, but the ones invented by Tom Smith in the 1800s in Britain. He worked in a confectioners shop and reinvented the “bon-bon” he had seen on a trip to Paris. Inspired by the “crackling & pop” of the sound logs make in the fireplace he created the cracker, which is a tube that usually contains a riddle or joke, a toy of some kind, and of course, the paper crown, and when you pull the ends to open them, they “POP”.  All of the photos of our Christmas & Boxing Day dinners growing up show us around the table wearing the paper crowns.

Boxing Day is a big holiday in Britain. The day is usually the day the Alms boxes were opened, hence the name, but also because the aristocracy gave gifts to the less fortunate in a Christmas Box. Because servants and workers did not have Christmas day off Boxing Day became the day they were allowed to celebrate and party, so it is very much “the people’s” holiday.

So between decorating the tree, Christmas nighties, the Christmas puzzle, soft-boiled eggs & soldiers, bread sauce, Christmas pudding, and Christmas Crackers, we have so many wonderful traditions that are continued to this day that were started as a child and I am sure will be continued as long as we celebrate the holiday together.

Wishing everyone a wonderful season of sharing their favorite traditions.

My baby takes the morning train

(photo Saturday Afternoon Northstar Uploaded on December 14, 2009
by MSPdude )

A 5-car Northstar train departs Target Field Station on a late Saturday afternoon. So far, Metro Transit seems to be using 5-car trains on weekends, and a maximum of 4 car trains on weekdays, because that is the maximum length they can run with the number of coaches they have. On weekends, on the other hand, the schedule can be run with one trainset, so they can add more cars. This works well for special events, as well as those curious train tourists they still seem to be getting on weekends

Empire State of Mind Parody – Minnesota Spoof (Empire Minnesota)

I don’t know what to say . . . .

You decide.


A TheAfternoonDLight spoof of Jay-Z and Alicia Keys song Empire State of Mind. Minnesota version… The glasses are suppose to look like the glasses Jay-Z wears (I don’t actually wear glasses), and the hand symbol is the icon of roc-a-fella

Here are the lyrics so you can sing along champ.

Yeah, yeah Im up in MN, city of St. Cloud
We border Canada, for that I am proud

East of the Dakotas, dont hate the north state
Thank us for Scotch tape, home of ten thousand lakes

The capital is St. Paul, hangin at the state fair
(feet are cold!)

The worlds largest twine ball, breathing in the cold air Fishin for that eel pout, huntin for that deer meat
You can catch the farmers when they harvest that whole grain wheat

Down W. Germain Street, all black grand prix
Turnin up the heat, and slide in the fresh CD

Neat, got it at Best Buy, Minnesota loves prince
Why do you steal CDs?, I only had four cents

Snows fallin from the sky, sky, normal snow flurry
See you slide by, you hit a patch of black ice

May we, give a shout out, yeah you know who we be
You can tell from our lyrics that we are TheAfternoonDLight

In Minnesota, frozen tundra that we are fond of
Theres nothing you cant do, in Minnesota

These lakes will make you feel brand new
Big trees will inspire you, life in Minnesota
-Sota, -sota
(I love the cold weather)

See me with a hat and jersey at the Vikings game
Man, Favre made the vikes more famous than the Yankees man

You should know the team who, has colors red and blue
Cause I got a box of crackers rootin for the Twins, dude

Welcome to the hottest spot, MOA where we shop
In the winter we can get, a DQ banana split
Jumping jack, Jumping jack, Jumping jack, now Im tired
Minnesota niceness, up here we know how to act

You’ve heard the stories, miracle on ice
Herb Brooks glory, for the gold theres no price
Yeah we represent, Minnesota raised
The illest rhymes we spittin you know are grade A

Three degrees below, snowboard and ski
Santas at the mall, on his knee, patiently

I hope he will give me, a brand new handmade
Real colorful, and accurate to scale, map of

In Minnesota, frozen tundra that we are fond of
Theres nothing you cant do, in Minnesota
These lakes will make you feel brand new
Big trees will inspire you, life in Minnesota
-Sota, -sota

Good luck finding, real good finders
So they can find a way to kick

Our behind-as, just try if you please
Now go hide cowardly, we killed it on the last verse

To be on Christmas Eve, with the fam in St. Cloud
Will make you smile and it will never get old
Its too cold to be about, the city cause the sun is hardly shining in
Minnies gone mad, its that time of year again

Come and take a field trip, see the Mississippi
Enjoying the nature, just like a hippie
Or watch a concert down at the First Ave.
Havin more fun than you ever really should have

Too cool for school, Minnies high in education
Our states the best, dont need investigation
Joe Mauer hits rocket homers to the moon
Look pretty in Minnie, yeah the state of the common loon

In Minnesota, frozen tundra that we are fond of
Theres nothing you cant do, in Minnesota
These lakes will make you feel brand new
Big trees will inspire you, life in Minnesota
-Sota, -sota

One hand in the air for the twin cities
These lights on trees are lookin pretty

No state on the map can compare
Puttin your mittens in the air, everybody say, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

In Minnesota, frozen tundra that we are fond of
Theres nothing you cant do, in Minnesota
These lakes will make you feel brand new
Big trees will inspire you, life in

via Big ups @g_rote

Fiona’s Five – 5 Quick Gift Suggestions

As a former Retail Slave for over 20 years people often ask me for advice for what to give for the holidays. That is a Transfer3 Turner Cooper teesvery tricky question because I am the kind of person who tries to give personalized gifts. I ask several pointed questions about each person then narrow down personalities or hobbies and try to come up with something at would be appropriate for each individual. I have been making gifts for friends and families for several years, including the t-shirts for my nephews and friends that seem to be very popular. Last year’s tees seemed to be a pretty big hit (pictured right).

But inevitably, there are some items each year that I think can be broadly applied as universal gifts for a large number of people so here are my five suggestions in no particular order:

Iphone chargerI.Sound 2 in 1 Back up Battery & Charger for IPhone & IPod They may be the coolest thing amongst a big circle of people but they also suck power like a starving anteater. If you are like me and have a large circle of friends who are addicted to their IPhones you also know how jittery they get when their phones begin to die from too much Tweeting and they have no power source or way to recharge. Friends have even cut evenings short because their IPhones are dying so this charger that retails for $49.99 on the I.Sound website but can be found on other sites for less, is the perfect gift.

Tumi wallet

Tumi Money Clip Card Case When I worked at Dayton’s/Marshall Field’s/Macy’s this was the singular item that we could not keep in stock and the best seller in Men’s Accessories. It holds two cards per slot and upwards of 20 bills in the money clip yet maintains a slim profile in a front pocket. Perfect for the frequent traveler, or any age group, men and women. There is a nylon/leather version available as well as an all-leather version and the Tumi quality is unparalleled. Just remember it is unlucky to give an empty wallet as it means you are wishing poverty on the receiver, so you must put at least a penny inside before it is given away. Available at many department stores, or go see Patrick at the Galleria Tumi Store.

CSACSA Membership – For those who don’t know CSA is Community Supported Agriculture, and when you purchase a membership you receive a share of a Farm’s harvest. There are dozens of Minnesota Farms for which you can purchase shares. Braucher Sunshine Harvest Farms Eggs and Grass-Fed Beef, Chicken & Lamb is a longtime favorite of mine, but many more CSA’s can be found on the Land Stewardship website. Some may not have updated for the new season yet but if you send an email I am certain most farms will be happy to accommodate an early request for 2010 as a holiday present.

I Heart MPLS T-Shirt – Locally made t-shirts in a variety of colors & sizes for Men & Women. What better way to express your Minneapolitan Pride? Full disclosure: these are available at a client’s store but he was a longtime friend and former coworker for 20 years at Dayton’s before he became a client, so I feel comfortable adding this great product to the list. The tees are available at Elsworth Menswear store in the Downtown Minneapolis skyway and should be online soon as well. They are much better than anything you’ll find on Cafepress. The T-shirts are only $20.00 each so are the perfect present for the Minne-apple in your life.

Cutting Boards

Wood From The Hood Cutting Boards – If you’re like me and feel like you’ve been kicked in the stomach every time you see the red band of death go up on one of the beautiful ancient elms in your neighborhood you’ll be happy to know that even though the diseased trees must be felled there is a fantastic company that is using the wood. You can select them by zip codes of neighborhoods from where the trees originally grew. The boards which cost $20-$33 are available at numerous local stores including Mother Earth Gardens, Natural Built Home, Seward Coop and CorAzon. A great gift for the foodie or anyone who has a kitchen!

Just five Quick suggestions; affordable universal presents that are sure to please and ones that should be easy to pick up at the last minute.

Now that is a big cat

One time I saw a cougar in the wild and it was leaner and not quite as large as this monster of a cat.

Check out the video.


Here’s a what will happen if you and your buddies drink a bottle of bourbon and decide to head up to Champlain to pet the kitty.


The Lake Harriet Eagle Watches

Magical creature. Mr. Eagle looks for dinner at lake Harriet.
Image uploaded by Chichlee

There’s been a bald eagle chillin’ like a villian at Lake Harriet and people can’t help but stop and stare.

I hear it’s been there everyday for the last week, go check it.


Has Citypages crossed the line?

Yesterday a video circulated that allegedly showed several possible teenagers attacking pedestrians at random and today the story is
Police on the trail of attackers shown in YouTube video.

I ran across this video around 9am yesterday morning and chose not to post it for two reasons.

1) I felt it would bring out the racial trolls and create a hostile environment.
2) There is a chance it could be staged.

That said, Citypages posted the video under the inflammatory title City Pages hosts video yanked by punks who assaulted bystanders

Which I guess in and of itself is fine, but the comments that followed spill into several racially charged uses of the “N” word and several threats of violence and gun talk.

I can understand not filtering comments to allow free speech, but all speech has a limit.

I have to admit, I was bothered by the comments to the point that I had a hard time falling asleep last night and almost got out of bed to write this post, but I thought that maybe Citypages would clean them up by morning.

So tell me, has Citypages crossed the line?


I read the news today, oh boy

Delivering the news

Delivering the news

Image uploaded by JustaCoolCat

While out for a morning bike ride I stopped and talked to this fellow biker who was delivering the paper.

He was a bit shy about having his pic taken “I can get off the bike. You don’t want a picture with an ugly old man in it” he offered which I rebuffed with “I don’t think you’re ugly, at all.”

We had a little chat about about biking: bike commuting, adult trikes, winter biking, tires and tire width and tire pressure and optimal tires for different conditions; turns out he bike commuted to work for twenty years.

Now in retirement he’s delivering the paper.


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