December 27, 2005

December and Christmas in Minnesota

Let It Snow

Talking 'bout the Weather

Minnesota Home
Elliot Avenue
Winter Flowers
Relief in the Hot Tub

Minnesotans love to talk about the weather. We talk about it because it is extreme and it can and does change rapidly. In the summer the thermometer can exceed 100∞, 38∞c. What is worse in the summer is the humidity. It is so humid here that we do not use relative humidity, which is described as a percent. Instead we use the dew point. That is the temperature at which dew would form, if the humid air was cooled. When is it super uncomfortable? When the dew point is more than 70∞ or 21 c, you want to die when it is that hot and humid. Then there are the thunderstorms and the tornadoes.
The winters are at the other end of the thermometer. The coldest that I have ever seen it in the Twin Cities is 43∞ below zero, or -42∞c. This is so cold that spit will freeze before it hits the ground. Bare skin can freeze in a minute or two. I can take short periods of these super cold temperatures, but it is the four weeks where it never gets above zero (-18∞c) that get me down.
Changeable? I have seen days where the temperature goes from -30 to +20 or from 20 to 70. So we talk about it all the time.

So, I cannot keep myself from talking about the weather. Right after Thanksgiving it snowed. Then it warmed up. Then it got bitterly cold and stayed that way. There were three week were it was close to ten below zero, or -22∞c. And except for a few days last week it has been overcast, so that for those eight hours of daylight the sun never stuck the earth. Did I say earth? That must be a slip of the tongue. There has been snow on the ground since Thanksgiving. Then two weeks ago we got ten inches of snow. The snow banks made by the snow plows were from two to three feet deep. Still it was one of the most beautiful snows that I have seen in years. It was a wet, sticky snow that lodged itself on every tree and shrub. It sparkles. Cold but beautiful, what a conundrum!

Like most men, I do not like Christmas Shopping. Like most women Birgitta and Betty love Christmas shopping. So they were at it early. Betty tends to be a big online shopper and they both love going to the shopping malls. They got pretty much everything they needed early. I waited until just before Christmas to get my gift for Betty. I got her a small GPS, so she would not get lost any more.

One of our biggest purchases was a car for Birgitta. She needs one to go to school, when we are in Mexico. They finally decided on the same car that I have, a 1998 Passat. I have had my problems with my Passat, so I wasn't extremely enthusiastic about the purchase. Still they are nice cars and the cost was only $6500, but the repair costs can be quite high. Birgitta's current boyfriend, Ryan Tully, is in the Air Force and living in Louisiana. He will be going to the Indian Ocean soon, so she headed down to Shreveport about two weeks ago and returned today. The house is really quiet when she is gone.


Dave Olausen

On Christmas Eve we joined most of my family in Minneapolis at the home of Carol and Doug Olausen. My sister, Gay Lynn, and her husband, Randy, were there. My step-brother, Dennis Baggenstoss was there. My brother, Brian, and his wife, Judy Olausen, were there. Doug is Judy's brother. Judy's other brother Dave and his family were there, as was their mother, Vivian. Randy's brother-in-law, Tony Arias, and his family and Randy's mother were there. Finally, Brian brought his grandson, Ebin. I love that little eight-year old with his silly grin and joyful attitude. Oyster stew is traditional in Carol's house. Other than that, anything goes. We all brought food to share. Since my grilled salmon was such a big hit in Argentina, I decided to bring salmon. It was a hit again, as were the barbecued chicken wings, and lamb. I particularly love the deserts. My favorite was Gay Lynn's persimmon pudding, which is really more like a small cake that is steamed instead of baked. The evening wound down as we watched the March of the Penguins on DVD. It was a remarkable documentary on the life of the Emperor Penguins of Antarctica. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it, since I never watch these kinds of flicks.


Brian and Gay Lynn
Betty and Vivian
Judy Olausen
Doug Arias and Alison Olausen

The next day, Christmas, Betty baked a ham with a wonderful glaze and she made her famous cheese potatoes. Then we packed it all up and headed over to my sister's house. Gay and Randy had prepared a bunch of king crab that tasted wonderful. We talked and ate and drank and talked and enjoyed the day immensely. Family is precious and it was great to be with them on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Because Christmas fell on a Sunday, the 26th was a holiday for most people too. All the stores were open. Thousands of people return to the stores the week after Christmas for super savings, or to return items that they received but did not like. I usually never go. But the first GPS unit that I bought for Betty just did not cut it. So we returned it, and I got one that works a lot better. We also bought some of the many Christmas decoration items that go on sale for 50% off right after Christmas.

We will be leaving Minnesota soon. It is a great place to visit, even in the winter. But it is no place to live in the winter. During the last four years I have not been in Minnesota for more than ten months total and that is not going to change now. We will be headed out in a week. We will be on the west coast for four to six weeks and in Mexico until the end of April. You can expect me to write about our journey, so stay tuned to Bill's Blog.

To My Faithful Readers

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

and a

Happy New Year

Posted by bill at 11:04 PM | Comments (6)