Monday, May 30, 2011

Camptown Races

Alex and I headed down to Canterbury Park yesterday for some good old fashioned horse racing. The place was really nice compared to River Downs in Cincinnati. As usual, we had no idea what we were doing and I went for the usual gut – color or name – instinct. It worked the first race but then my horse came in 4th for the next couple.

So we started to get logistical with our picks. Figuring out how much money the horse has made, how many starts the horse has made, how many times he has won, who the jockey was, etc.

That didn't work for us either. So we went back to our gut. My gut won big! $16!!!

Before the last race we bet on, Alex caught (or should I say ran to catch) a t-shirt they were flinging into the stands. Clearly, we should have stopped while we were ahead, because we lost big.

At the end though, we figured we only lost about $15. Not bad for an afternoon at the races.

N MPLS Tornado

It was only a week ago that North Minneapolis was hit by a tornado. Minnesota is known for its tornados, but they are usually in the suburbs away from the metropolitan areas. We are about 10 minutes from downtown, so I never thought tornados would be an issue, until last Sunday.

I had taken Cider for a walk but was keeping my eye out on the very ominous sky. It seemed a distance away. However, within 10 minutes of our walk it had crept up very quickly. Cider and I hustled back to the house, thinking it was going to be a nasty thunderstorm. I turned on the tv to what I still consider crappy weather reporting and channel surfed, trying to find a station talking about the weather. I finally came across one that said we should expect 60 mph winds and large hail.

Alex had just walked into the kitchen from the garage commenting on the weather. I told him about the wind and hail and suggested he pull the cars into the garage. He agreed. After the door shut behind him the wind kicked up causing the rain to be horizontal, the tornado siren went off and the weather channel reported a tornado had touched down in St. Louis Park, about 15 minutes south of us. I ran to yell out to Alex but he was in the garage making room for the cars. (He had been cutting trim and painting doors for our bedroom.)

I literally threw Cider downstairs and was running around gathering the important things. Once Alex finally got inside, we went downstairs to listen to the weather together. The weatherman was tracking the tornado on the other side of 94 from us, about 15 minutes to the east of us. It wasn't until I received an email from my Aunt and talked to my parents that I understood the severity of the situation. When I checked the news it looked like an area to the southeast of us was hit pretty hard, about 10 minutes away. However, it wasn't until we drove downtown several days after the tornado that we realized the tornado was actually 5 minutes away directly east of us.

My heart sank to see all of the trees down, garages flattened and roofs ripped off of homes. People were milling about the streets and waiting in line at the food truck. The City of Minneapolis enforced a curfew at 9pm due to severe looting. People were driving up with trucks in front of homes and just taking what they wanted. It is very sad to hear how people take advantage of people at a time like this.

Here is a video of the damage done in North Minneapolis.

Fortunately, the only damage that was around us was a branch that fell from our backyard neighbors tree into our other backyard neighbors driveway.

Alex drove down the parkway and took video of the damage. The drive is a favorite of ours. You can now see the lakes which used to be hidden by trees.

There were not many images of the actual tornado posted on the internet. Probably because it came out of nowhere. I did come across this video that was filmed about 20 minutes southeast of us. I am overwhelmed by the size of the tornado and how it did not hit us.

There was no time to prepare for this tornado. No warning at all. Alex and I have both learned, that once you hear the siren, no matter what head for cover.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Karate Cider

Cider meet Grandpa

My parents came to visit Easter weekend. It was the first time they met Cider. Cider for the most part was on her best behavior. She took a liking to my dad quickly and he did the same to her. They were pals the entire weekend.

I think a dog would do my dad's heart good. In fact, medical research does report that dogs lower stress in patients. Although, Cider seems to raise my stress levels at times. So maybe not a Cider, but a well behaved dog (not puppy) would be better.

April Snowshowers bring May Flowers

I was so excited when I first saw my tulips start to come up. I knew Winter was on its way out. That is until it snowed at the end of April. I was a bit concerned that the snow would damage my tulips. Thankfully, it did not. However, I could not believe how we just could not get rid of the snow this year.

Hide and Cider

When Cider escapes she usually runs into our bedroom and "hides" underneath the bed. Occasionally, on her way under, she grabs whatever is in sight to keep her busy. She also learned the further under in, the harder it is for us to get to her.

Cider P. Mavridoglou, PhDog

Cider passed her Intermediate PetSmart Class. I can't say it was easy. This class wasn't as much fun than than her Puppy Class. The instructor was the same, but we didn't have the one on one time with the Instructor. Cider still managed to learn and improve upon the fundamentals; walking, come, heel and leave it. She graduated and that is all that matters.



Since Cider enjoys being on top of her cage so much, I decided to move her cage to the window. I figured she would enjoy sitting and looking out the window, and she does.

She keeps a close on eye on the squirrels and ducks that pass through the yard. Her arch enemy is the squirrel that sits on our porch railing taunting her.

When I leave for work in the morning, she runs over to her cage and hops up to watch me walk out. It is hard to leave in the mornings with her sweet face looking out the window. My heart literally aches. It does make me wonder how I will be with children. We have awhile before we have to think about that.

Here Come the Irish . . . to St. Paul

This past April St. Paul hosted the NCAA Frozen Four Championship and the ND Irish Hockey team made the trip. It was awesome to be able to root on my Alma Mater here in Minnesota. It is Big Ten (12) Country and ND never plays Minnesota in anything. So this was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Irish in Minnesota for anything.

We were able to greet the team when they arrived to the hotel. The Pep Band arrived shortly before the team and we (ND Alumni Club) were all singing the fight song and chanting "Here Come the Irish."

Prior to the game, the Pep Band stopped by a local bar to get the fans excited for the game.

There was a bit of drama around the Irish coming to town in our household. Alex had made plans with his friend from Detroit to go to the Frozen Four no matter what teams made it. They had no tickets. Once the Irish made it, I wanted to go and see them. With a little luck and my dad's college roommate, I was able to get 2 tickets. Problem . . . I had 2 tickets and 3 people wanted to see the game. Alex and his friend decided to look for their own tickets, while I tried to sell my extra one. Which I was successful. However, Alex and his friend were still without tickets. With another bit of luck and my dad's friend, we were able to get another pair of tickets. The Frozen Four was a BIG social experiment for myself. I rarely go to anything by myself. However, I wanted to see the Irish, so I went out on a limb and watched the game by myself. It wasn't terrible, but it isn't the same without Alex.

All and all, it was fun despite sitting alone and the Irish losing. I enjoyed seeing Notre Dame plastered all over St. Paul and the Xcel Energy Center.

Road Trip!

During the months of February and March it is eagle migration season in Minnesota. This is the time when the Bald Eagles build their nests along the Mississippi River in an area close to the town of Wabasha.

We (I) decided to make it Cider's first official road trip. It was practice for our road trip home for Christmas.

Alex wasn't too thrilled about bringing Cider along, but he didn't have much of a choice in the matter.

Cider enjoyed the car ride and all of the new scenery and smells.

Located in Wabasha is the National Eagle Center where they provide information about eagles and their habits. They also provide a home to 5 disabled eagles. We both got the chance to have our picture with a real live eagle. It was amazing!

They had an interactive education area. Alex and I measured our grip strength compared to that of a Bald Eagle. I measured at 20 psi and Alex at 45 psi. A Bald Eagle's strength comes in at over 400 psi. Yikes!

After checking out the Eagle Center we took Cider for a short walk along the Mississippi River. It was such a beautiful day. I think she enjoyed the new surroundings.

On our drive home, we came across about 10 Bald Eagles in the wild.

We also came across the Whistle Stop Cafe. I was hoping there would be some Fried Green Tomatoes. Unfortunately, there were none. Bummer!

All and all it was a fun trip. Even Alex admitted that Cider did amazing in the car. For the most part, she stayed in the back seat. Eventually, she worked her way to the front into my lap.

And then she fell asleep . . . nothing better than to have a puppy sleeping in your lap.

Rake the Roof

I don't know how to put it Minnesota Nice, but this past winter absolutely stunk! The second we stepped off the plane from Hawaii, we had crappy weather. To be honest, we have yet to have nice weather. Apparently, when the sun does come out, that causes tornados (more on that later).

Since we had a "warmer" winter that meant we had more snow. Weird, right? The snow built up into what is called ice dams on our roof. This was discovered because I thought Cider had an accident in our bedroom. When I was inspecting the "accident" water began dripping on me.

After a bit of research and a couple hundred later, we were ice dam free. Alex also invested in a roof rake. That is right kids, we (Alex) had to rake the roof to prevent the snow from building up.

All I know is that we better have a great summer or our time in the Twin Cities will be shorter than expected!

Ready or not . . . here they come!

So I have been delinquent in posting . . . yes, I know. I am sorry! Really, I am. For whatever reason, this past winter has left me wanting to do absolutely nothing.

But, I have some time and have uploaded pictures from my camera. So ready or not, here it comes . . .