Category Archives: Snow

What the sun giveth . . .

It will also taketh away.

I expected clouds but the forecast let me down and gave me a beautiful sunny day. I can’t paint the snow before the sculpture is in the shaddows because the pigment will simply hasten the melt. Still, I’m making far more progress than I had hoped. I’ll probably have it all painted before my community ed French class at six tonight. If not I’ll finish it up in the morning. I took a picture of it with the shadows beginning to be cast on it. That’s the worst time of day for me to take a picture but still for those of you wondering about my progress take a look:

People don’t quite have it figured out yet. Maybe they never will. I restored Trump’s face and carved out much more of the civil war warriors than I expected to. I’ve had to reapply snow constantly through the day as it sluffs off in the sun.

I’ve been singing the civil war songs my Mom used to play on the piano and asked one person who stopped by if he’d ever seen a copy of President Trump’s birth certificate. He said he hadn’t and I suggested that maybe we all ought to get a look. He said he’d look into it.

The colors to come? Blue and gray of course. And Red, Yellow and orange. And if you are curious how closely this comes to my initial design here’s my model. I am quite pleased with myself so far.

Look at it today or tomorrow before Minnesota’s new milder winters…

. . . melts the heck out of this brief winter wonder in my front yard. I give it one or two days a most to look presentable. I’ll be putting this sign up in an hour so folks can get the drift of the message of my latest snow sculpture. It will take me the rest of the day to finish. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me today to repair, color and accessorize this tableau. But first I am going to practice French. I’m close to completing 500 days straight of French practice on Duolingo. Mange mon neige Monsieur Trump!

Behind the scenes of a snow sculpture

I like to look at my snow sculptures from my windows. I don’t build them to be seen from the back but I like looking at people slowing down to take pictures once they are near completion. And this effort is near completion. Like the see no evil elephants that melted a few days after their birth in December, this particular sculpture was ambitious and took nearly two weeks to build. Its not quite done yet.

Yesterday’s warm temps hint an yet another short life for this year’s second “call-to-arms” sculpture but they sure made it easy to get the work done fast. It should be finished by tomorrow, Monday, and well into the melting process by the end of the week. I’ll snap a picture when its finished and post it so long as no one mutilates it over night.

I’m feeling better at this point. The wonderful new knock off of American Pie I just watched on Facebook has cheered me immensely. After church I’ll find it and post it.

Meet the new member of the “no evil” clan

If you couldn’t tell it by looking at my friend here, he’s pinching his nose tight. He’s not alone on my front yard. His older siblings are each keeping evil at bay in their own ways. Ostriches are far more efficient. They accomplish all this unwelcome stimulation by sticking their heads in the sand. This is the new Trumplican Party.

It is impeachment season but the Democrats are permitted to act on their consciences when it comes time to vote. This wasn’t good enough for one New Jersey Democrat. Representative Van Drew is switching parties even though Nancy Pelosi isn’t enforcing a pro-impeachment vote. The Congressman may not end up benefiting from his party switching. First off six of his staff members quit. Next, the GOP has made it known that they may not want him as their Congressman. Several Republicans have been circling his district planning to run against him.

As for the GOP side of the House there was not so much as a lone wolf baying at the President’s duplicitous ways. That’s a far cry from the ferocity with which Republicans took after Bill Clinton who posed no threat to our nation’s security….just to pretty young women with crushes on Bubba.

There has never been a time in our nation’s history until now that one President held the genitals of every member of his party in Congress in his hands or rather in the hands of the voters trained by the Republican party to rid themselves of independent thinkers in primaries. Today’s march-in-step Republican philosophy comes straight from the mouth of Donald Trump. It is the “group think” that Orwell wrote about although there seems to be little thinking involved just vigorous head bobbing.

Now its all fingers in ears, eyes closed and shouts of “LA LA LA LA LA LA LA I can’t hear you!” And, as you can plainly see from the convention being held in my front yard, even the stink of the Grand Old Party’s corpse has been banished.

How a lot of us feel

I am in awe of what sculptors can do with sand. I was asked to give it a try in Two Harbors thirty years ago at their Kayak festival and that was enough for me.

I also know that I’m not that dedicated a snow sculptor especially in terms of technique. Weather plays a role as well. I’ve done a number of presidents over the years. I’ve done Lincoln twice. The second time I did I too used the famous sculpture of him seated in the Lincoln memorial. It was a warm day and my sculpture wasn’t huge and sun defying. One fellow at church afterward told me he just didn’t think my sculpture was as good as others I’d made and that it didn’t look like Lincoln. Well the head was only a foot wide not six feet wide and he saw it the next day which was in the mid thirties and sunny.

I later used its picture as one of my 50 “trading card” pack for my 2017 school board campaign. You will note the sculpture was built near Lincoln’s birthday in 2006. That was the same time as the birth of this blog when I ran for Congress as the sole member of the “Unity” party.

“Hate helps no one…” Tommy Rukavina’s last letter

The last time I remember seeing tiny but obstreperous Tommy Rukavina he crawled out from under a table at a candidate’s forum I was attending as a Republican candidate for the legislature. Tommy died yesterday. After cleansing my front yard by replacing Cheeto Boy with a new snow sculpture I know just what to post under the picture of the new one. Its the last letter Tommy wrote to my favorite Minnesota newspaper, the Timberjay, before he passed on to that Union Hall in the sky. God go with you Tommy!

Hate helps no one, love solves everything
A letter from Tom Rukavina
Posted Wednesday, January 9, 2019 5:33 pm
Tom Rukavina

This is the last letter to the editor we received from Tom Rukavina (who over the years submitted many). At the request of a reader, we are posting it on our website….

Marshall, Your editorial on xenophobia touched my heartstrings. As your readership may know, I am currently in the University of Minnesota Medical Center receiving excellent care after my bone marrow transplant on Nov. 14.

Every day a nurse walks in who is a little different than me. She or he might be Somali or Hmong or Japanese-American and have a little bit of an accent – just like those old Croats I used to listen to on the northside of Virginia. Or, my nurse’s assistant may come in to take my blood pressure and tell me how she fled the war in Liberia when she was a young woman and what a wonderful opportunity it is to be here in America.

Then the housekeepers come in, they’re in a hurry, they say hi. They are Somali or Ethiopian or Liberian. One was a male who stopped emptying the wastebaskets and talked to us. About how he came from Ethiopia five years ago because of tribal conflicts. He already had a master’s degree in chemistry and is now working two jobs while going to school to become a pharmacist so he can give his three children a college education. He was particularly proud of his four-year-old daughter whose teacher told him was extremely intelligent. He told us his dream is that she will grow up to do something good for her country – this country, America.

I could go on and tell you that one of my transplant doctors is from Brazil and my primary oncologist is from India. She came to get her degree at the U of M and decided to stay on here to pay back for the great education she received from our state.

So, it’s puzzling to me that some of my friends and their children have forgotten that they are the children and grandchildren of immigrants. That they came to America for the same dream, to make life better for themselves and their families. And they were treated as badly as today’s immigrants. I can’t help but relay the story told to me by one of my dad’s best friends.

They had milk cows on the northside of Virginia and it was Bruno’s job, as a 12-year-old kid, to deliver the milk in the morning to the mining locations – Lincoln, Higgins and Minorca – which sat above the hill north of Virginia. One early morning on his way to deliver milk, he saw smoke coming from the top of one of the mine dumps, so on his way back after delivery he decided to climb up there and investigate. It was a smoldering cross put there by the Ku Klux Klan to intimidate the Slovenians and Croatians because they were Catholic, and the Finns who they claimed were radicals. He also happened to notice there was a little book on the ground. He picked up the book and put it in his pocket and he brought it home to his father.

His Italian father couldn’t read English so they brought it across the street to another Italian immigrant who could read English. The book contained the membership list of the Virginia KKK. Rinaldo got so scared he threw the book in the kitchen woodstove and burned it, because it contained the names of some very important “American” people in Virginia. To this day I still remember some of the names that were told to me that were in that book. Much to my surprise I’ve kept those names to myself, and all of you knowing my big mouth, it has been a chore to not blurt them out at times. But, among the descendants of those individuals were many good people. My hope is that someday, the descendants of those people who are currently creating so much hardship for our new immigrants, will learn that people are people no matter their color, religion or country of origin. That they are good people coming to the land of the free for the same reason our ancestors did.

On a final note, I can’t help but think that if not for the care of all these wonderful Somali and Liberian and Ethiopian and Brazilian and Indian and Hmong and Japanese immigrants that I’ve met here, I might be six feet under.

Hate helps no one, love solves everything.

Tom Rukavina
Pike Twp
via University

In the DNT and good bye to Baby New Year

I still subscribe to the DNT because I would miss things if I relied solely on checking it on my cell phone. And despite my sometimes contentious, if not acrimonious, fuss fests with its editors I regard my ongoing subscription to the paper copy as a civic duty. I want a local paper of some consequence however diminished it may be from the golden age of broadsheets.

I learned two things. Why it was that St. Louis County Sheriff Litman was shepherding former Vice President Mondale around. And I learned what happened to the fellow I began referring to as “my buddy” for long years in Lincolndemocrat. My oldest readers may recall those occasional email exchanges I put on the blog. (“My Buddy” shows up in 245 posts in my search function)

“My Buddy” was Vic Ulmer a longtime attorney for the City of Duluth. I first met him forty years ago when my wife briefly worked for the Personnel Office under Personnel Director John Muldoon.
Vic stopped replying to my blog posts about two years ago. This was the last time I posted one of our email exchanges. Vic died last February apparently after moving back to his old home state of South Dakota. That’s when he died. last February. In the early days of the blog I would simply call him Vic until it occurred to me that readers might be able to deduce who he was from some of his writings. He was single and died apparently unlamented until he was remembered in another DNT story about local attorneys honoring attorneys who had pass on the great courtroom behind the Pearly Gates this year.

Our latter emails began growing contentious and I would stop replying to his until we simmered down. If there’s a heaven Vic, I hope you don’t let it put too much of a damper on your ornery opinions.

At ten last night I dismantled the New Year’s Baby and tried to hide its gaudy painted snow. I took a reserve of sticky snow and until midnight molded it in the rough shape of a more sober sculpture meant to take its place. I slept well till 8AM. Now that I’ve got a couple things off of my chest its time for me to see if I can find that sculpture in my pile before it turns too cold.

The surgery has not gone well

I attempted an untested surgical procedure in order to return the New Year’s Baby’s dismembered head to its rightful place. Present to record, for posterity, this unusual procedure was crack Fox 21 News reporter Nicky Davidson. I hope she offers her viewers a warning that they look away during any airing if they were squeamish .

The procedure was a double crainiotomy in order to relieve pressure on the surgeon’s back. First the jaw was cleanly sawed off and replaced on the severed neck with freshly warmed surgical snow. There was some failure at the jawline but enough glue left over for the placement of the middle piece of skull including a recently deviated nasal septum. The scalp will have to wait until tomorrow after more fresh surgical snow is melted to a snowball consistency.

I chatted through the procedure with Nicky and observed that if I had discovered the miscreants who pushed the New Year’s Baby’s head off while living in a good Republican, “Stand your ground,” state and properly armed, I could have gotten away with plugging them for their trespass and damage to property.

This is the current state of the New Year’s Baby while it awaits a final operation followed by some cosmetic repair. It reminds me of the characters on the Simpson’s Itchy and Stratchy Show.

A brazen daylight crossing of …

… Baby New Year’s border wall ended tragically for Baby New Year.

2019-01-02_07-22-52

It is not clear if his decapitation was committed by haters of baby New Year or sympathizers who wanted to put him out of his hypothermic misery. He was not well dressed for a Minnesota winter.

Bipartisan by nature

Why would I be a revelation in Congress? Because I truly took to heart Will Roger’s maxim, “I never met a man I didn’t like.”
I’ll teach Congressman that they need not detest each other just like Noah loaded the animals onto the Ark……..two by two.

Here’s an old scratchy video clip from before the Lewinsky Affair right after Bill Clinton was elected in 1992:

That was twenty-five years ago. I’ve made more snow sculptures since then.

This’n that before I hit the sack

I had the house mostly to myself today as Claudia went to St. Paul to lobby our legislature with folks worried about the poor and homeless. It was also the week that Duluthians poured into St. Paul to lobby for Duluth. I got to stay home, read the news, grimace, finish Pardon Mon French – my next Reader column and finish Batman for my grandson. Here’s what will melt tomorrow in my front yard.

I also took a picture of a huge contrail over my house from a jet that circled twice. Wonder what that was all about?

I suggested that Claudia watch Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief” as part of our viewing of French movies to get us in the mood for our trip to France. Then Claudia watched the CNN coverage of voting results in Pennsylvania. The Democrat Lamb (not to the slaughter) running against the Republican Suckthumb something or other. Poor guy was barely mentioned by President Trump, who came to Pennsylvania to huff and puff about how successful his Presidency has been and, oh yes, support Congressional Republicans. No final result yet. Lamb leads by a hair. We won’t know the results until tomorrow’s absentee ballots are counted. I think Lamb will win by a shake of his tail, maybe 350 votes out of over 200,000. Win or lose the Democrats will feel exultant and so will I. (Trump won here by 20% last November)

Time for bed.

Oh, I almost forgot. Tomorrow’s paper will have a story about how the School Board can’t wait to spend 2 million to tear down New Central High. As of my bed time 101 folks on Facebook have heaped abuse on the Board. That’s what I predicted would happen a couple days ago to friends but – last November Duluth elected a board mostly eager to turn the old school to dust. The lone exception? Alanna Oswald.

The story from yesterday on raising class sizes won’t improve voters attitude and neither will future plans to ask for more $ in a referendum.

As Minnesota is pulled down by gravity and sun

My children and my wife make sport over me whenever I began talking about natural phenomena. They all call out “glaciers!” when I get going. That’s because I got overly enthusiastic once when my kids were little explaining how even now, ten thousand years after the mile thick glaciers retreated under the sun the ground in Minnesota continues to recoil upward. Its just like a mattress after a sleeper leaves the bed. Its only a very little annual recoil, but still.

Gravity is having the opposite effect on my snow sculpture outline map of Minnesota. In concert with the sun it is pulling it down and making it squatter. I wouldn’t mind that so much but because I undermined the area under the Olympic rings it began a slow topple towards the hill below it. The picture in the last post from last night was taken after I was satisfied with its appearance. Half an hour later I looked out my front window to check on what seemed a dicey situation and discovered a fist-wide crevice half way up the sculpture where Minnesota was about to break at about Hinckley’s latitude. Instead of joining my wife to pick up our grandsons from school I raced out to prevent a disaster like California’s sliding into the Pacific.

Before I could pause to take the picture above I first shaved off much of the snow in the top front of Minnesota removing it five or six inches deep to take the weight off below. Then I replaced snow under the rings to give the lower sculpture firmer support. Then I punched holes in the back where the rift had opened up and shoved more snow inside so that there would be less of a void along the back of the sculpture.

In the process of doing all this the Sculpture suffered. The sides and circles got dinged and scraping away so much snow from the front exposed the Cat in the Hat. The cat portion was faded pink and an ugly blemish. I decided that the quickest fix was get out more red dye/paint and make the blemish a heart, rather like the one discovered on the proto planet Pluto. (that’s fun to say although it may be a dwarf planet)

That didn’t work out so well. The snow I painted was wet and in short order the valentine became a bleeding mess. One of the editors at the Reader came over to snap a picture and texted me to ask if the bleeding heart had been from a vandal. I sent him the clean picture but it was too late for it to become the front cover of this week’s Reader. Working on the sculpture may also have cost me my column in the Reader. I had thought I could get it done quicker but frittered away the afternoon that I had planned on using to write the “Wayning of America.” I turned it in at 9 PM and in my subject heading I simply typed, “I hope its not too late.”

If it is I’ll just put it in the blog.

This morning I scooped up some snow, put it in a plastic bin and took it to my basement to warm up. I also dug out the offending red blob and tossed it under my spruce tree. I used the melted snow to fill in the crater. I think the chances that Minnesota will last one more day have improved to 50/50. I wasn’t sure it would last overnight but it did with some new narrower crevices still visible this morning. The colder evening temps have stabilized it a little.

I’ve confessed before that I don’t mind the attention that my snow sculptures generate any more than an actor opposes applause. The loss of the Reader front cover has been made up for by Facebook. The preceding post is essentially what I put in Facebook 18 hours ago. Since that time it has gotten over 500 “shares.” I don’t recall getting 10 or 20 for any previous post. Its a felicitous sculpture on a subject dear to the hearts of any Minnesotan – our Olympic representatives. I suspect their success helps make up for the blowout loss the Vikes suffered in the Conference Championship before the Superbowl.

I’m enjoying my moment in the sun too; more so than my sculpture which will soon melt away.

One last school related obligation to attend to

An email I’ve just sent to Lowell Elementary School:

Dear Lowell Community,

Last year I was contracted to help build a snow sculpture for Lowell by a purchase of my services in a fundraiser to pay for mulch replacement. I was surprised a month or so ago to learn that Principal Larva did not know of this.

We are about to get 20 inches of snow according to recent forecasts and that will make for excellent snow sculpting conditions. I am open to any number of ways to honor my commitment. I could make something of my own design all by myself or I could do the same for any reasonable subject requested for example a school mascot.

I would also gladly work with students to show them how I sculpt and how they can sculpt. They could make their own sculptures with my direction or work with me to make a larger one.

The ideal conditions would be a period of just above melting temperatures which might require a little flexibility for scheduling. The teachers and or PTA might like a hand in thinking how best to redeem my obligation. Please email or call me at 218-***-****. I will be out of town next week when the snow flies.

Harry Welty

Make the Grinch Green Again

I did go swimming as I planned but haven’t started proof reading the last post. I spent the afternoon practicing French. And I decided the Grinch needed a fresh coat of color before the snow hits tomorrow or Thursday.

I used the bottles of what was likely food coloring but they faded pretty quickly so I did what I did on the Yellow Submarine. I mixed my acrylic paints into water and Voila, you can now seek Max the dog against a green and red backdrop of Grinchiness.

Passersby seemed pleased. My midnight visitors made the right choice…..even if it wasn’t mine.