2018 seems so long ago now

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. I was thinking about 2018 and what I think was the biggest story of the year in St. Paul. It all seems so long ago but it was just last June when St. Paul made the national and international news, because a raccoon climbed a 25 story office building downtown. #MPRraccoon  It took the critter hours and hours. The tired rodent took a nap on the roof of the building before being captured and removed.

If there is a life lesson it is about how hard the little raccoon worked to climb the building and how all of that work was wasted when she was captured and brought back down to the ground by a man. Apparently she just wanted some pigeon eggs for breakfast and she knew where she could find some.

The news media did an excellent job of covering the event but I thought I would use my crazy photojournalistic skills to fill in some of what the media did not cover. After all, it is Friday. (Scroll over the photos or click on them to see captions)


My socks don’t spark joy

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Cleaning and organizing is fun.

If you watched the new Netflix series called “Tidying Up,” you learned all about tidying up and getting rid of items that don’t spark joy. The series is very popular among my friends and neighbors. I don’t want to say too much about the show because I don’t want to give away any of the plots.

On the show, Marie Kondo, who is also the author of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up“, teaches us how to use the “KonMari” method of folding clothes and organizing our homes. She teaches people to touch their belongings and decide if they spark joy. If they don’t spark joy we are encouraged to thank the item and add it to the pile of the donate or discard pile.

After spending a couple of years “downsizing” I do not have much excess stuff but I was in need of organizing my clothing and I have to say the end result is pretty amazing. Everything all neatly folded up and a little extra space in every drawer.

Even though nothing in my sock drawer sparks joy I decided to keep most of my socks because I need to wear them to keep my feet warm in the winter. I have never really liked wearing socks and I mostly don’t when the weather is warm.

I discovered that my jar full of buttons does spark joy. Since I had some extra space in my sock drawer after I reorganized I decided to use it to store my buttons. Now my sock drawer does spark joy.

The last Friday of 2018

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. I am going to commemorate this occasion with a couple of pictures of St. Paul. After all a picture is worth at least a thousand words and it doesn’t have to be spelled correctly and there is no need for punctuation.

sunrise - downtown
View of downtown from the high bridge at dawn
Mississippi River just after sunrise

Photography is always fun and so is living in St. Paul.

Holiday surprises

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. My husband and I have some unusual holiday traditions. Last year we bought a new countertop and sink for the kitchen for Christmas.

We needed something to wrap and put under the tree so we bought a new faucet. Kitchen faucets are the gift that keeps on giving.

This year we are each buying something for ourselves. The way it works is my husband bought himself a gift. I wrapped it and put it under the tree. I’ll be buying my own and he will wrap it and put it under the tree. We always act surprised on Christmas when we unwrap the gift.

I still remember the year my husband bought me a toaster for Christmas. I figured out what it was and he denied it. I ended up having to hide the wrapped toaster because I was afraid he would replace it with something else just to prove me wrong. Please don’t buy your wife a toaster for Christmas.

One year we went shopping together and I found a coat that I decided he had to have. He tried it on and we bought it. He picked out something for me in that same store. It may have been a sweater.

We both enjoy Christmas more now that we stopped buying things for each other that we don’t want or need. It is more about having fun and enjoying the season.

Grandma’s fruitcake

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. Fruitcake jokes are a part of the holiday tradition. There are stories about that one fruitcake that had traveled around the world as a gift that keeps getting passed on.

I want to let you know that some of us like fruitcake but only good fruitcake. Unfortunately, most of the fruitcake in the world isn’t good.

Just after Thanksgiving I got out my grandma’s recipe and made a fruitcake. The ingredients cost a small fortune and the thing weighs 7 pounds. It takes 3 to 4 hours to bake and it is now in a cool place (not hard to find in my house this time of year) wrapped in cheesecloth soaked in sherry. It should be ready by Christmas.

Yes, I know it can be soaked in rum or brandy but to me, sherry smells like Christmas. I went and bought a nice bottle of the stuff instead of using what I found at the grocery store.

The recipe was copied by hand a few times through the generations. I made some notes on my copy. I found one step that really wasn’t needed and crossed it out. I later found an older copy of the recipe that my grandmother had given my mom and my mom had crossed out that same step.

In one place the recipe says to bring 1/4 cup honey mixed with 1/4 cup sherry almost to a boil and then set aside. After I combined all of the other ingredients I noticed that the sherry and honey mixture was never mentioned again. I took a chance and mixed it in with the rest of the ingredients before baking the cake.

I am not going to add a line about what to do with the honey and sherry because I think the omission gives the recipe character and it reminded me, my mom. Mom is still alive but she stopped talking about two years ago. She always had a wonderful sense of humor.

I’ll bring her some fruitcake because I know she will appreciate a good fruitcake and because I have 7 pounds of the stuff and only know a few people who like it and who can eat it. It isn’t gluten-free and it has tree nuts in it. It is vegetarian but not vegan and I am afraid I did not use organic ingredients but none of the ingredients are inorganic.

There is other information missing from the recipe but I knew what I was supposed to do because it wasn’t my first fruitcake just my first solo fruitcake.

Making fruitcake

Unexpected fun last Friday

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. We had a fun surprise last Friday. The Smith Ave. High Bridge reopened. It was closed for 15 months for redecking.

I missed the bridge and had to cut through downtown St. Paul to get to the west side. I missed being able to walk and bike over the bridge too.

About an hour after the bridge opened I walked across it. I have to say it sure feels safer for walking and the new railing makes it possible to really enjoy the view. There aren’t any speed limit signs on the bridge which makes sense because few drivers observe the speed limit and it was never enforced.

The railings have been redesigned to make the bridge harder to jump off. It is also a lot more pedestrian friendly with the new barrier. There are a lot of people who walk the bridge.

There will be a grand re-opening on the North side of the bridge, December 2, 2018, at 1:00 PM.  There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony followed by a walk and public celebration at the Capital View Cafe.

Smith ave Highbridge – over Mississippi River
view from High Bridge on a November afternoon