weather

Friday in the Snow

I retired, had a great retirement party, and immediately came down with a cold. Fortunately not Covid. I hadn’t been sick in a couple of years. At the beginning of Covid I bought tons of cold remedies so I would be prepared but I never got sick. When I did get sick, they had all expired. 

Now ten days later, I feel human again. Battling the system. I have yet another Social Security meeting next week. Medicare eludes me. Now the country has run out of money, by the time I get my Medicare sorted it will probably be defunded.

On the brighter side… we got another six inches of snow and I haven’t seen the sun in a while. Next winter I’m going to have to go to South America for the duration. My brother took off for New Zealand the other day. Lucky him.

Retirement. I have so many things on my to do list, I am actually feeling overwhelmed. Where to start? What to do first? Maybe it is an excuse to do nothing. I’ve been sick. I need to just take some time off and do nothing, right? Domestic chores continue to mount up. When you retire, you still have to do laundry and dishes and clean the bathroom. Really? Doesn’t seem right.

I was gifted this book called The Catch Me If You Can by Jessica Nabongo. She is the first recorded Black Woman to visit all 195 countries in the world. She did most of them in about two years. In the book she takes about 100 countries and writes a page or two about them. It gives you a snapshot, a quick anecdote, a favorite moment. She is an entrepreneur. She invented herself. Blog, travel, travel agency, promotion, London School of Economics, jobs in Japan and Benin, Ted Talk, writer. She also sells home goods, jewelry, travel accessories through a website called The Catch (although they seem to be not taking orders at the moment). One of those people who does it all and makes it look easy and seamless. The book is beautiful with lots of great photos. I don’t think I’m going to Catch her, I have like 150 countries to go.

My cousin’s husband just started a blog about his travels around the USA, either by motorcycle or camper, and all the people he meets along the way. He calls it America is a beautiful thing .   

Here are a couple of snapshots a la Catch Me If You Can…

Argentina five years ago:

As we flew into Ushuaia airport I could tell the pilot was having to do some maneuvering swooping down in-between the mountains and dealing with the heavy winds. A province of Argentina, Tierra del Fuego is an island that sits at the southernmost tip of South America. Ushuaia, its capital, is on the Beagle Channel about half-way between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, 620 miles from Antarctica. The meeting of the two oceans along with the mountainous terrain creates a strange weather pattern. It was usually very windy and could rain, be sunny, be stormy, windy raining, all within the same hour. It never rained for long and usually not very heavily. We could be out walking in the rain and never feel wet. 

Once we hit the ground, I started to cry. It had taken me more than thirty years to get there but I was finally there. It was an amazing feeling. And the beauty of it did not disappoint, it was even more beautiful than I had imagined. The light and color was like nothing I had seen before. The area was dominated by snow covered mountains all around. Before arriving I had been worried that the excursions I had reserved would be cancelled because the weather forecast called for rain every day. I soon realized, rain meant nothing in Ushuaia. Life went on no matter what the weather was. One of our tour guides said the only people carrying umbrellas in Ushuaia were tourists. Because of the winds, umbrellas were useless.

Egypt one year ago: Valley of the Kings

Then we wound up the hill into the valley where the tombs were hidden. One reason they picked this area is the mountain is naturally shaped like a pyramid. Only twelve of the 63 discovered tombs are open to the public at any given time and they are alternated as they are worked on and restored. We saw four of them. The whole area was still being actively excavated. Some tombs were in better shape than others. King Tutankhamun’s tomb was the only one that still had a mummy in it and it will be moved soon. It is hard to describe the experience, it was beyond beautiful so amazing to think how old they are. 

I read all the Amelia Peabody books by Egyptologist Barbara Mertz aka Elizabeth Peters that span the time from 1884-1923. She wrote 20 books based in Egypt mostly about archeologists digging around and solving mysteries. As I read them, I kept trying to imagine what the Valley of the Kings actually looked like back then, or even now. All I could imagine was a vast desert with nothing much else. Well, now I know.

Have a great week!

Friday Before the Holiday

My relatives.. This is actually a postcard dated 1912. Apparently it was all the rage at the time to make your photographs into postcards. It is addressed to my grandfather and just says “My Latest”.

We are back in the deep freeze. Seven new inches of snow and temperatures well below zero F. with strong winds. Blizzard conditions. But, hey, this is Minnesota. We trudge on.

It is the first of two holiday weekends. Family, Festivities, Fun, Food. I’m making a Hazelnut Torte to take to the Xmas eve get-together. Then I will take my father to a nice restaurant for Xmas day. And it will be cold. I lived in Mexico City growing up. Our tradition was to get up the day after Xmas and load up the car and drive to Acapulco for a week. Now, that was way more fun than any other Xmas stuff. My holidays were always related to travel. Either traveling home from boarding school or traveling to the beach or, one year, we traveled to Kenya and Tanzania to see the game parks. I might need to revive that traveling tradition.

I became interested in the show Yellowstone because a new prequel just came out with Helen Mirren and Harrison Ford called 1923. So, thinking the whole show was on Paramount Plus, I signed on. I then saw there was another prequel called 1883. I have been binge watching 1883. I figured I would start at the beginning. Then I discovered the actual show isn’t on Paramount Plus, they sold it to Peacock. So if I want to watch the actual show I have to sign up with them. This is getting to be very confusing. And expensive. Maybe I can find it at the library…

Anyway, 1883 is about the Dutton family’s trek from Fort Worth Texas to Montana by covered wagon. They are traveling with a group of Eastern European immigrants. Within the first few weeks, half the people died in one way or another. Disaster after disaster. The narrator is a teenage girl who goes from despair to elation about love and nature and god’s hand in nature and the beauty of the land and the cruelty of it as well.

It made me think about my family and their trek across the sea and then half way across America. They must have traveled the same way. Covered wagons, horses. On my father’s side my ancestor came from Ireland in 1811, and bought land in Pennsylvania. They didn’t stay long. His son was born in Ohio in 1818 and they later moved to Missouri. When he found he was on the wrong side slavery, he moved his farm and family north to Illinois. After he died in 1858, the family moved to western Iowa where they had kin. My grandfather was born in Iowa in 1880. He dug in a farm and stayed there.

On my grandmother’s side, her family sailed from England to Connecticut in 1641. The family stayed there until the mid 1700’s when their house was destroyed by fire.

The father and two elder sons went into the wilderness to clear some land and left the wife and baby in a white settlement. The father and eldest son were killed by Indians. The second son, Isaac, was fourteen when he was captured by the Genesee Indians. Several years later he managed to escape but it wasn’t until he was 70 years old when he found his baby brother who had been left behind with his mother. By that time he was living in Ulster County, New York. The family stayed in New York until about 1880, when they up and moved to western Iowa. My grandmother was born there in 1881.

You can see why 1883 draws me in.

I hope you have a super duper holiday weekend!

Hazelnut Torte

½ lb shelled hazelnuts
8 eggs, separated
1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup breadcrumbs
Grated rind of 1 lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup whipped cream
1 cup tart jelly (I like raspberry)

Grind the unblanched hazelnuts very fine. Put 2 tablespoons of the ground nuts aside for the outside of the cake.

Beat the egg yolks with the sugar till very light. Add the breadcrumbs, lemon rind, lemon juice, vanilla and ground nuts. Fold in the egg whites whipped very stiff but not dry.

Bake in 2 layers, 30 minutes at 325 degree F. Cool in the pans.

Take out and put together with whipped cream and a little jelly spread between the layers. Whip the rest o f the jelly with a fork and spread it over the top and sides of the cake. Powder with unused 2 tablespoons of ground nuts. Decorate the top of the cake with a swirl of whipped cream. Chill before serving.

Maybe I’ll have a picture next week.

Friday Random Thoughts

Twenty five years ago this week I woke up in my apartment in Moscow, Russia to the BBC announcing a car crash in Paris. Princess Diana was rushed to hospital. I ran to the living room and turned on CNN or BBC or whatever. She was soon declared dead. It was sad and shocking.

Another death this week made me sad. It was only after Mikhail Gorbachev instigated Perestroika and the Soviet Union started to fall apart did we realize we would be able to move to Russia. It had always been my husband’s dream to go live there and Gorbie made that possible. He was the hero of the day. In 1990 I was living on Capitol Hill in D.C. and I had an image of Gorbie in my car window. The hand was on a spring so it actually waved. It was awesome. Three years later I was living in Moscow.

You get the idea…. (these are available on Amazon)

Gorbie did a lot to change the world. I don’t think it turned out the way he had hoped it would but he did make a positive difference. Now, of course, Mr Putin is trying to undo it all. There was an excellent obit in the New York Times this week.

I was reading this weird book that just seemed to be going on and on. It takes place in an airport lounge. One guy is telling a story to another guy. They went to college together but didn’t really know each other well. It feels like Mr. A just wanted to unload on somebody and Mr. B just happened to be there. So the story went on an on about how Mr. A saved a guy from drowning and then he became obsessed with the guy only to find out he probably should not have bothered. Anyway, the book is Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson. The Washington Post compares the author to Tom Ripley – “spinning a mesmerizing yarn”. To be honest I wasn’t mesmerized. I suppose if I was feeling more philosophical I could analyze my way through it and read all kinds of existential stuff into it but frankly I didn’t care enough. I skipped to the end. 

I guess I have not been paying too much attention lately but heard recently that there is another NASA space ship scheduled for the Moon. The plan is to establish a presence on the Moon in preparation of sending astronauts to Mars. It will be called Artemis Base Camp. In Greek mythology, Artemis was a lunar deity and goddess of the hunt. I found another book on my shelf “Russians in Space” that tells about the first manned space trip. In 1961, Yuri Gagarin was sitting in a rocket ship getting ready for this historic journey.

“Before the actual liftoff, Korolev, Kamanin and the first future cosmonauts gathered around the communications station to talk with Gagarin. One used call-sign Zarya.

Zarya: Well everything is normal It’s all going according to schedule. On the machine, everything is going fine.
Gagarin: How about the medical data? Is my heart beating?
Zarya. Your pulse rate is 64, and your respiration is 24. Everything is normal.
Gagarin: Roger. So my heart is beating.
Korolev: How are you feeling?
Gagarin: I’m not worried. I feel fine. How are you feeling? Tell the doctors that my pulse is normal.

At 9:07 am they had lift-off. He spent 108 minutes in space. He commented on how dark the night was and how bright the stars. How blue the earth was.

“At 9:51 when the spacecraft emerged from the earth’s shadow the automatic orientation system went into action. It sought out the sun and ‘locked on’ it to orient the ship. As the sun’s rays came through the earth’s atmosphere, the horizon turns bright orange, then gradually shaded through all the hues of the rainbow, to light blue, dark blue, violet, and even black. Gagarin asked himself: ‘Where have I seen such a combination of colors?’ And then he remembered: on the canvases of Nicholas Roerich and Rockwell Kent.”

At 10:55 the space ship plowed into a field and Gagarin landed by parachute near by. The farm workers gathered around in amazement. Gagarin was in very good spirits.

I received my Snow Emergency pamphlet from the St Paul Public Works today. Apparently St Paul plows more than 1,800 lane miles during the first 24 hours of a snow emergency. They compare it to a trip from St Paul to Anaheim, CA. I have to admit they do a pretty good job. I have lived in places where they do a terrible job (Washington DC).

Looks like a touch of orange is already here.

Birthday Week

Looks like six??

I usually post something on Sundays but yesterday was my birthday so I took the day off. I had a nice lunch with my father and then just lounged around. I took my car in for an oil change this morning and walking home it felt like fall. Crisp and cool. Strange weather for August. I’m sure it will change again. Climate change is very strange.

So my toilet stopped working. Well, it runs constantly which is not good. But whoever designed my bathroom was pretty much nuts. They put this counter top right over the toilet so you can’t access the tank. Plus they put in this pressurized mechanism that is all encased in plastic so you really can’t access it. Not to mention the fact that it is a hideous green color. I’ve had to get somebody to take out the counter top and install a new sink and toilet. So I ordered a new sink and it was too small for the cabinet I have so I am going to have a new cabinet as well. It is kind of snowballing. I tried to find a contractor but I ended up with the building maintenance guy because the contractor I talked to who sounded so positive and gave me so much hope, totally disappeared on me. Why are contractors such elusive characters?

I am completely obsessed and overcome with my upcoming retirement. I am constantly planning what I am going to do “once I retire”. Somehow don’t think it is too healthy. Be here now …. and all that. But there you have it. I’m constantly planning and replanning and rearranging all the trips I want to take. And all the projects I have. “Oh, I can do that once I retire”. “I will have time to clean out that closet once I retire”. Totally nuts. So what do I do instead of cleaning out that closet? I let dust accumulate on everything and lie on my couch watching “Brokenwood Mysteries” on Acorn.

Of course I do have to go to work in the meantime…

Anyway, have a good week! Maybe something cool and interesting will happen. (My constant dream.)

Lapham Peak in the Snow

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Kettle Moraine State Forest in eastern Wisconsin covers 30,000 acres.

A long time ago, the area was covered in glaciers.  A moraine is an accumulation of glacial debris, such as rocks and silt.  Kettles are landforms molded by melting glaciers.

Lapham Peak was formed about 10,000 yrs ago by a glacier which made it the highest point in Waukesha County with a elevation of 1,233 ft above sea level. At the top is an observation tower (45 ft tall).  In the late 1800’s the Federal Signal Service Division of Telegrams and Reports established a signal station on the peak to receive meteorological observations from Pike’s Peak, Colorado.  Increase A. Lapham collected the data and relayed it to all the Great Lakes ports to warn them about approaching storms.

Lapham Peak now encompasses over 1,000 acres of cross country ski trails and other recreational activities.

As we entered the area we came upon a deer standing stock still looking right at us as if we had lost our mind.  It was beautiful.

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This is what 12 degrees F looks like.

The Weather

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s funny how memory plays tricks on you.  I could have sworn it never got hot in Denver.  And why would it be hotter there than Oakland, CA?  But otherwise this looks about right.  Lagos was the wettest heat so always felt much hotter and Florida was just HOT.

We are on our 11th straight day of temperatures above 95 degrees in Washington DC.  We are beating all kinds of records.  Climate change, anyone?

Weather plays such an important part in our lives either consciously or subconsciously.  But it is amazing how people adapt to it.  In Bogota it rained almost every single day of the year.  I learned to never leave the house without being prepared for rain no matter what it looked like at the moment.

It took me a while, but in Minneapolis I learned to dress in layers and to wear very warm boots.  Hat and gloves were always stuffed into my pockets.  I was cold the first couple of years I lived there but managed to fix that, so when I moved to Moscow I was never cold.  I had learned.

Lugano was deceiving.  It was in the middle of the Swiss/Italian Alps but the climate was mild.  It never got too cold and there were palm trees growing around the lake.

I will confirm that Washington DC is the worst.  The city was built on top of a swamp so it is wet and humid.  It is in the south but just barely so it kind of thinks it is in the north.  It gets a little snow most years but rarely lasts.  It is in-between everything and has the worst of everything.  Wet, humid, hot, and sometimes cold.

Right now it is just HOT.

The best weather was Mexico City.  Never too hot or too cold.

But then there was the altitude…..

What was your best weather?