2012 in Short Summary

The year started with a mild winter with below average snow.  I continue to revel in my leatherwork and just I had more time to play like this:

In February the dealership called me and asked to buy back my previous car lease – I relented and leased this new snazzy Limited Edition Scion!

(See!  Now snow!  And that was taken on the 18th of February.)

In March (the 11th) the ground was already warm enough to allow barefooting!  Yeeaaayy!

Beautiful April days allowed us pleasant days out in the sun.  At 14 years of age, old Chippie really likes to be outside with us in the ever increasing sun.

Also in April, our dear friends Troy and Naomi became fellow American Citizens.

At the end of April, my store moved to a new bigger and nicer location!  Lots of excitement!  Some hired help, some volunteers – and we all did it in one weekend!

 

May saw me and Wilhelm out for a walk in one of the parks next to the Mississippi river.

I woke up on my birthday, June 19th, with some heavy wind damage – the fence between us and the neighbours were blown down, and Wilhelm’s car had a narrow escape when a heavu tree branch just missed falling on his car (It is the silver colored one).

On the last day of June, me and Wilhelm went on a Google Photo Walk on an island in the Mississippi river, where I took this photo of downtown St Paul nestled on the northern bank of the river.

July 4th saw us again at the now very intitutionalized Potjie Day at Mark’s house with about 30 other ex-South Africans and interested Americans.  Wilhelm made a potjie all on his own!

In July I joined fellow leatherworkers to give a talk at a Sci Fi Convention where I saw this Steampunk booth!  (And yes, the leather in there comes from my store!)

August was the highlight of the year when I travelled to South Africa for my Mom’s 80th birthday! It was a delightful two and a half weeks of pure visiting! We watched the olympics together – a glorius choice of about seven channels of non-stop olympics!

In the middle of October the weather was still mild enough for me to join The Minnesota Barefoot Hikers for a hike in a local park!   We saw quite a few of these little snakes trying to soak up the last few warm rays of sunshine.

End of November both boys were home and we joined the Dalldorfs for a very hearty lunch!

And Christmas saw us at the Kuhns’ to bring the year to a good end….

Running Walking against Malaria

On Saturday morning more than a hundred of us got together in a park in Eagan to raise money for a fight against Malaria.

You can read more about the whole program at this LINK

Our local Bishop Sally was there to start off the event and to run herself!

Jacques came up from Mankato for the event.  Here he is between Pastor Judy and Dianne, a very good friend.

Here are a few more photographs:

Here are two small videos I took before I was off with the walkers – I did it barefoot and had a really fun time!

Jacques Moves to Mankato

On the 18th of August we took Jacques to the Minnesota State University, Mankato (mostly just called Mankato State) to start his studies in Exercise Science.

The moving in was very well organized if you consider that there were almost 15 floors’ worth of students that had to move in using just two elevators.

On arrival, the cars were organized in lines that never waited very long, first in a parking lot and then at the residence itself.

As a parking opened up, you were directed into it and a team of yellow-T-shirted students helped unload each car.  Within five minutes you had to take the empty car back to a remote parking lot from where a bus shuttled you back to the residence.

In the mean time Jacques got his dorm room key, we exchanged my ID card for a flat bed trolley and took the first load to the line that waited for one of the elevators.  While I was doing this, Gina was guarding the rest on the lawn and Jacques started carrying some loads up the nine flights of stairs to his room.

Along all the lines very helpful students were directing everybody so that the lines never stood waiting too long and even the guy operating the elevator manually, remaing friendly and cheerful throughout the whole day’s up and down.

When everything was in the room, the big unpack started.  We helped as far as we could, but the young man knew where he wanted things.  The bed presented a challenge.  Well, I suppose you make it the way you get into it to sleep in it!

From his window, this is the view:

This last photograph above shows where Jacques will have some of his first classes before winter strikes – on the tennis court!

In the mean time the batlle with the bed seem to have been won!

 

Kayak Plus Hike

After church on Sunday, Jacques and myself took the kayaks and went to explore Thomas Lake in Eagan.

The lake had a lot of Duckweed, but it was easy to paddle through.  For the rest the lake was nothing spectacular.   Maybe in the spring when the water is cleaner ….?

We then grabbed a quick bite to eat so that we could join the Barefoot Hikers of Minnesota on a two hour hike through Lebanon Hills Regional Park.

Along the way we saw many mushrooms, but these tiny ones that seem to grow on the moss, caught my eye:


As I am sitting here, thirty hours later, my calf muscles know that I did a two hour hike without shoes.  But I feel so alive and my feet feel so good, that I am ready to do it again.  It makes me dread that summer is almost over and the cold will creep into Minnesota and curb most of my outdoor barefoot activities!

St Croix Paddle Day 12

Our second day on this trip. Beautiful weather!

Nothing looks as nice to a paddler than seeing the boats laid out like that, just ready to float!

Above and below in the foreground is Troy’s 17′ Old Town Tandem kayak that carries us so well!   It is low in the water and very stable (unless a lady is determined to dump out its contents….  more a bit later ….)

Troy had time for a last minute text home and a photo and then we had the morning briefieng and then we were down to the water like a pack of crocodiles that had been on the sandbank too long!

Mark and Troy and me, first paddled upstream a few hundred yards to look at the cliffs at the paddle boat landing. [I will place more of Mark’s photos in a next posting.]

Half way through the day’s paddle, we stopped at a sandbank where a gentleman beached his boat with several coolers on – the best lemonade on the St Croix – and some very good snacks!

As I said before, to any paddle enthusiast, this picture of the boats lined up and at the ready, is just pure joy.

[I know its almost a duplicate – so play Spot-the-difference….]

We swam, drank, ate and chatted, while the minnows insisted on nibling on ant exposed skin they could find – a very eery sensation.

Eventually the whole group had caught up and we were able to take a group pic.

We were off again on a leisurely paddle and Mark had lots of oportunity to put his long lens to work.

[Check out the next posting for the picture he took of this eagle…]

The wind stayed down and for the most part the water made for just great photography.

It did also help that there were clouds around – sunscreen by now was mostly just to keep your mother happy ….   But again the cloudy conditions made the photographs special.

There is always the rumour that the rear engine in a tandem kayak can sneak in a rest or two while the front guy has to do all the work.   Well, on this trip I had the sneaky suspicion that it might just be the other way round ….!

 

St Croix Paddle Day 10 part two

Upon arriving at Taylor’s Falls, this very kind gentleman had a cooler full of beer and pop to welcome us with!

Everybody was glad to come in for rest at the end of the day – and however hard we had to battle the wind, everybody had smiles on their faces!

Eric was there to shuttle our boats to the next day’s starting point and to take us to our camping site in the Interstate Park.

We were able to pitch tent in a little piece of heaven.

After the local Rotary Club shuttled us to the showers two miles away, they also shuttled us to the local town for their “Wannagen Days” celebrations where we had a good beer, a very well made hamburger and where we could solve the world’s political hassles in peace!

Back in our tent, we slept through raccoons ransacking the neighbors, a tornado siren and two inches of rain, or so they say…..

St Croix Paddle Day 10

This was the first day I joined the group that is paddling the whole length of the St Croix river.

I joined my two good friends Troy and Mark and we camped with the group on the Thursday evening which was the 9th day of the trip.  The three of us shared Troy’s tent, dubbed bythe group as the Taj Mahal.

Because it is an organized paddle, there were set times to start so that day tripper could join us on a predetermined schedule.

But, on Friday morning, just after we packed up our tent, it started to rain and some lightning was detected.  This meant that there would be real danger for people in aluminium canoes.   So we hung around and made friends with many of the very interesting group of paddlers.   Julie also brought the most divine pan of oven-warm sticky buns to sweeten us up!

Troy even had a chance to do a Facebook entry in his plastic bag enclosed phone.

Before long a park ranger, Dale, came and set up a shelter and gave us a very interesting talk about the people who had fought hard for the preservation of the St Croix river.

After that, we still had some thunder, but Deb, the person responsible for us all, gave permission for us to go on the water as soon as 15minutes passed without lightning.

While some were keeping an eye on their watches, some took it easy:

At last we were off in the rain – just happy to be on the water.   For the next few hours I did not take any pictures (because of the rain).   We started getting a sustained headwind of 20mph sometimes gusting up to 35mph – so if we stopped paddling, we would float upstream!   Even though i was in a tandem kayak with Troy, we had to keep it going all the time.  The rain stung now and again and a few times we took on a gallon of extra ballast, but it was sheer fun!  I would not have had it any other way.

Mark managed to get these two photographs of me and Troy:

Here and there we could hug the shore and get a bit of relief from the wind.   I don’t think it was too long before the weather cleared and even the wind let up.  By 3.30pm the sun was out and we found a river-access picnic spot to take a rest and eat a snack.

Here is Mark with his Hobie kayak that attracted a lot of interest from all the paddlers:

A sign said there was a toilet you could go to.  Troy went to investigate and took this photo:

Won’t catch me easily on one of those when I know other people are close by!

Snacks were good and it was not long before we were on the water again.

 

 

Jacques Graduates from High School

Jacques in the crowd, waiting ….

There were 286 of them – from Henry Sibley High School.

(He is in the right hand block – on the isle, fourth from the back.)

Many pictures were taken – thank goodness digital photography is free!

Troy and the girls were there too.


So now both boys are done with high school.