Saturday, January 31, 2015

St Paul Federal Building



By the 1880s, St Paul, Minnesota had grown from a collection of small houses and muddy streets to the makings of a capital city. The need for a large post office and federal courtrooms was filled when the Federal Building, now called Landmark Center, was completed in 1902.






As St Paul became a center for bootleggers, bank robbers, kidnappers, prostitutes and all kind of crime in the 1920s and 30s, the upstairs courtrooms saw plenty of action.


One judge, "Sentence a Minute" John McGee, handed out 112 sentences for bootlegging in 130 minutes in one day.


In 1900, 500,000 people, 74% of the Minnesota population, had a foreign-born parent. Many of them became US citizens in this beautiful atrium.






As the representative of the federal government, the building was a backdrop for patriotic speeches and cheering crowds watching troops march off to training camps for war in 1917 and 1918. It was also the spot to celebrate the end of World War I and welcome the soldiers back home.


I love these scrims on the windows depicting old street scenes on the street outside. You can look through the scrims and see the forms of the modern buildings they are superimposed upon.







In the 1960s the population and businesses were leaving the city and moving to the suburbs. The Federal Building was abandoned and became run down, like too many of the other beautiful buildings of Old St Paul. When plans were announced in the 1970s to tear the eyesore down and build a parking lot, citizens formed a group to save and restore it. Landmark Center opened in 1978 as a cultural center.




I'm so glad it was saved!



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Country Bumpkin in the Big City

On my way to see the Winter Carnival ice sculptures Monday I walked around downtown St Paul a bit. There were lots of things to catch my eye.



Wind chimes made of ice outside a local brew pub.

It looked like they were set up for outdoor music in the evening.







Interesting architecture and reflections










A metal sculpture outside Ecolab corporate headquarters.

Something not every city has - sidewalks in the sky. Appropriately called Skyways, they allow people to walk all over town indoors which definitely has its advantages in a Minnesota winter. There are 5 miles of skyways in St Paul.


Monday, January 26, 2015

What We Do In Winter

The St Paul Winter Carnival is the oldest city winter festival in the United States. In 1885 two journalists from the East Coast came to Minnesota in the winter and declared it "another Siberia" and uninhabitable by humans!
This raised the hackles of some hearty Minnesotans and the following winter they put on a festival celebrating all things winter. And it has happened in St Paul every year since.


There are parades, sporting events, and lots of other things, but I enjoy the ice sculptures in Rice Park the most.


Here are some of my favorites from this year.


The sunflower petals are so thin and delicate. Can't imagine how they were done without breaking.






















A prayng mantis, I think. So much detail.


A look inside a snowman. Who knew?

Mad Hatter's tea party from Alice in Wonderland.

The park is especially magical at night with thousands of tiny white lights in all the trees and colored spotlights on the ice castle. The sculptures were beautiful today, though, sparkling in the sunshine.

Thanks for visiting my blog. I enjoy reading your comments and will be by to visit you in return.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

St Dunstan-in-the East

My 8X great grandfather and his family lived in Stepney, East London, in the area of St Dunstan-in-the-East Church for a period of time in the early 1600s and likely worshipped there. The church is mostly gone now but it remains as a tiny park in the midst of the church ruins, in the midst of the city.



There is such a feeling of peace, with trees and vines growing around and out of the foundations, graves, and old walls, such profound quiet in the midst of modern London.












Where once the congregation sat on pews in the knave, businessmen from nearby offices eat their lunches. Only an occasional siren brings you back to the fact that you are in the middle of bustling London.

I joined them for awhile, perhaps with my feet resting on the footprints of a long-ago family member, looking up at the windows which he or she might have gazed at, now filled with the lush greenery of nature reclaiming what man built.



The site of St Dunstan's has probably been a church since Saxon times. A church built in the 14th century was nearly destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666. It was patched up and a tower designed by Christopher Wren was completed in 1701. Only the Wren tower and steeple survived the German bombs in The Blitz of 1941. After a decision not to rebuild, the park was opened in 1971.


Friday, January 16, 2015


First of all, just for the record, I walked UP the steps in the Lambeth North station, turned around, and took the photo!

Now the car. Marie came through again!


It's a 1934 Standard 10, a brand I had never heard of but apparently quite popular in its day. Apart from info about cylinders and struts and other incomprehensible stuff, I found out it cost £185 new, and looked something like this.






Or, if you want one for your wedding or other fancy transportation needs (as long as they occur in the vicinity of Swindon UK because they don't like to take it too far afield ), you can contact and reserve their 1934 Standard 10 car, which looks like this.




Oh, and their website says it does come with a sunroof, wire wheels and a "fabulous sounding 'ooga' horn that commands everyone's attention"!

Who wants to go for a ride?


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What Are Friends For?

Between the bitter cold weather and being sick with a cold myself, I've had to take naps and entertain myself indoors for the last five days. One of the projects I've been working on is to sort photos from my two weeks in England last fall, which has resulted in wondering, well, what some of them are.

This lot is from an old area in a London Underground station.


While there is always maintenance going on in the Tube, it seemed like this year escalators everywhere were being serviced or replaced and stairs were compulsory.


But how could I begrudge 84 more steps when I would have missed this beauty entirely had I had the option of the escalator!




Alas, I had no photo of the outside of the station and couldn't find the scrap of paper where I had written down WHAT station it was. I tried Google. No help. Then I thought of my London friend Marie and within a few minutes, from just these photos, I had the answer! Marie is brilliant about all things London and you can click here for the answer and a photo of the entrance to the station.

So now I have a question (or six) for more of my brilliant readers.

Every day I walked past this lovely old car parked in the street a block from the house where I stayed in South Ealing. No one was ever around it to chat about it with and it intrigued me. Was someone planning to restore it? What is it and how old is it? Does it run? Where did it come from? Can I sit in the driver's seat?

So, Dear Reader, do you know anything about this car?


Back here in Minne-snow-ta, we're being promised a week long warm-up, starting today! The temps are already above zero F this morning, I'm getting my energy back, and I'm planning to get outside. (Oh, and P.S. I figured out my new slide converter as well!)


Friday, January 9, 2015

January in Minnesota


It's just plain too cold!

Schools were closed Wednesday because the windchill (combination of wind and air temperature, or as it's sometimes called, The Misery Factor) was -30 to -40F. That's -34 to -40C and that's cold! Dangerously cold.

Yesterday it snowed and I slipped and slid home from my daughter's house because salt won't melt snow and ice on the roads at these air temperatures.

The radio reported 716 accidents on Minnesota roads yesterday afternoon and night.

For exercise today, I shoveled the driveway, three inches that fell yesterday and some big drifts that the wind created. I have had to come in twice to thaw my hands and toes, and I'm still not done.

I want to be out skiing or snowshoeing in the woods but even though the sun is out, it's still below zero and that's too cold. Bare skin freezes in minutes at these temperatures.


So, I thought I would spend the day copying slides onto my iPad with the converter I got for Christmas, but I can't figure it out. I'll try again another day -- right now I'm just frustrated with the whole thing!

I guess I'll make another cup of tea and read a book.

I do hope you are enjoying your day.











Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Knit Two, Purl Two

I said I would post pictures of the projects that kept me busy before Christmas, and here they are, finally.

First, to give a little perspective on my work . . .


These were on Etsy and she had 155 orders logged, so apparently there is a market.

If you didn't get a pair, there is always next year.


This sweater was on the rack at a favorite charity shop. The right sleeve reached from my sister's shoulder to her ankles!


I've had a similar problem making socks, so I feel for this knitter. You know. Sometimes things just get away from you!


The real curiosity is, can the shop really think someone will buy this?









Well, now I think you are ready to see my modest creations, so here you go.



I made eight pairs of boot cuffs and leg warmers for friends and family in different colors and patterns. This is the only pair I remembered to take a photo of. They are wool, warm and comfy and fun to make. I'm always looking for ways to use up small amounts of yarn I have left over, and these used up lots of those.












My daughter wanted this so I had to learn to knit a cable. I'm convinced with YouTube, I can now do anything!


It has fancy black buttons to wear it as a cowl that came from one of my grandma's dresses. Sarah loves it.









A hat for Mason used up more leftovers from other projects.

A green car, an orange car, and a blue and yellow truck. The first time it was too big so I made it twice.

I think I will start earlier next Christmas.