Target Field makes me happy.

Last year the upper midwest emerged from a 3-decade funk of watching baseball indoors in the world’s worst stadium. Yes, the Twins won two World Series at the Metrodome and created great excitement and community spirit in 1987 and 1991. But that was because of the teams, not the venue.

A few nights ago I went to a game by myself at our year-old ballpark, courtesy of a last minute cancellation and discount price offer of a friend with season tickets. (Thanks Rita!) I took the opportunity to just wander around for the whole game, sit in different sections all over the ballpark, take some pictures, and just let the sights, sounds and smells waft.

You can almost see the Metrodome from here - but who wants to? (photo by Steve Date)

I went to 3 games last year and fell in love with Target Field like just about everyone else. But last year the place was new — unfamiliar and unexplored. Monday night I felt like I spent some quality time with a new friend.

I’d never gone to a ballgame alone before and I enjoyed the experience in a whole new way. Not that I don’t like good conversation (because I do) but it was a chance to just look around and get to know the place. The baseball game seemed like a backdrop for the real event, which was the ballpark itself, and seeing how the people interact with it and with each other.

There were a lot of "#3s" on this night. Everyone who passed by paid their respects at the Harmon Killebrew statue. (photo by Steve Date)


Two young fans are thrilled to talk with Twins pregame co-host Anthony LaPanta. (photo by Steve Date)


I'm not sure if I wish I could be the kid or the dad. (photo by Steve Date)

The evening began with a tribute to Twins great Harmon Killebrew, who recently died of cancer (see previous post). There was a video and a moving moment when the entire Twins team surrounded the big #3 etched in the infield dirt as manager Ron Gardenhire gave a short speech about his hero and held Harmon’s jersey in the air.

Gardy and the current Twins team remember their mentor and friend, Harmon Killebrew. (photo by Steve Date)


She's too young to appreciate the importance of Harmon Killebrew to Twins fans, but when she's older, she'll remember being here on this night. (photo by Steve Date)


Everybody is #3 this week. (photo by Steve Date)

Right field (photo by Steve Date)

I think my favorite part of Target Field is the outfield — asymetrical, quirky and visually interesting from every angle. Little flower beds, an overhanging home run porch in right field, the iconic Twins-shaking-hands sign in center, the steep angular lines of the seats, the view of the Minneapolis skyline to the east — I can go on and on.

On this night, slugger Jim Thome returned from the disabled list with a vengeance and hit two homers – one a 465 foot monster that landed almost at Gate 34 in the right field plaza.

(photo by Steve Date)


Target Field gets even more beautiful as night falls. (photo by Steve Date)

The Twins were great last year, winning the division and providing us with a lot of excitement. This year they’re off to a slow start, to say the least. As I write this, the Twins have the worst winning percentage in major league baseball and are 14.5 games out of first place. But people are filling the ballpark every night and having a good time anyway. Why? Because they’re spending time together outdoors, in a place that is better than they had hoped for and which has quickly become much more than just a place to watch a baseball game.

My daughter Emily's long-time friend Kelsey Boesch (center) happened to be on the Kiss-Cam that night. You'll have to guess who she just kissed. (photo by Steve Date)


This night was all about Harmon Killebrew (photo by Steve Date)

Tomorrow night I’ll be back at Target Field with my daughter Lauren — Chicago’s biggest Twins fan and lover of Target Field. I can’t wait.

Lauren with her first Target Field Kramarczuk's brat last July. There will be more.

But in the longer term, I’m also looking forward to growing old together with my new friend — this wonderful place.

(To see more photos from this game, go to my Flickr set here.)

(photo by Steve Date)

It’s Lauren Date’s birthday!

“BabyDate” has been a part of my life for 26 years now — even longer if you count the rolling around and kicking for a while before that.

It’s been 8 years since she’s lived here – 3 in Madison, 1 in Spain and now 4 in Chicago. Everybody talks about how fast time flies by, but I have to be honest — sometimes it works both ways. When she does come back to Minneapolis for a few days, it’s now as a visitor, and it sometimes seems like a long time since she was a kid.

Memories are only fragments. And they fade, they change. I want them to be complete. I want to be able to conjure up whole scenes, but quite often all I have are little bits and pieces. I want to put her on my shoulders again and hear her giggle when we play “where’s baby bear?”

The photos help. Sometimes I find one I haven’t seen for awhile I can actually revive a forgotten memory. I love looking at pictures of Lauren when she was a kid. If you’ve only known her as an adult, you only know part who she is.

The photos are triggers. A photo can be a “play” button to a mental video of a certain day. This next one, for instance. Lauren’s always liked baseball for some reason. I love this one where’s she’s got catcher’s gear on. When I think of her love for the Minnesota Twins today, I think of this picture and this kid and this day. It’s an ordinary picture of an ordinary ballgame at Lynnhurst Park, but it’s much more than that now.

When does a person move out of childhood? Of course, it’s not a certain day or even year. But there’s one photograph that captures Lauren’s transformation in my mind’s eye. I’m not even sure how old she was in this one, but for me it’s the earliest one that shows her the way she looks now. I like the fake contemplative look and imagine her breaking into a laugh a second later.

It’s funny how you can never imagine letting go of your kids when they’re little. Then all of a sudden it’s been 8 years since you did have to let go — that’s the cruel paradox of the passage of time. It passes both quickly and slowly, and as a parent, it’s never in your favor.

She doesn’t like it when I post picture of her as an adult, but here’s one anyway — collapsed on the ground after completing the Twin Cities Marathon last October.

Lauren has grown into an amazing young woman. She’s made her way in the big city for 4 years now. When I say I’m proud of who she’s become, I don’t mean to imply that I think I had a lot to do with it (those kudos go to her mother). Lauren has become who she is mainly because of her own thoughtfulness, curiosity, hard work, sense of humor and moral integrity.

Lauren was a great kid and now when I see her or talk with her, I feel so fortunate.

Happy birthday Lauren! I love you.

See you in a few weeks at Target Field. Go Twins!

(To see a bunch more photos of Lauren, you can time-travel back a year by clicking HERE for last year’s birthday)

The 58th Year comes to an end, as all good things must.

Tomorrow marks one year since I started two projects. One was this blog and the other was my Photo-of-the-Day. I knew that posting a new photo every day was an ambitious goal, but I’d been thinking about it for a while and thought I had a good chance to keep it going for a year.

As for the blog, I was less confident that: A) I had very much worthwhile to say and B) I would stick with it and post on a regular basis for a year. A year ago, I’d been reading a few blogs occasionally, but it was really the writing of my daughters Lauren and Emily that inspired me to start doing it. Since then, Lauren has kept up with her “Bows and Arrows” and is very good at it. I hope Emily picks hers up again because she’s an excellent writer as well. My trepidation about the self-absorbed nature of this sort of thing faded as they showed me that a person can actually write about things (and show photos) that are of interest to others without going on and on about trivial and personal crap that people don’t care about.

Looking back through the 67 posts I’ve done since my birthday a year ago, I see that I failed in the personal crap category a few times (like right now) but I’ve tried to write only when I have something semi-interesting to say. These 68 posts spread out over a random year in my life will stand as some sort of record of what caught my attention, what I was thinking and what I wanted others to know about. As a reader, you can take it or leave it, but it’s nice to know that occasionally a few people got something out of something I’ve posted.

Having said that, let’s be honest, it IS mostly self-serving. I think I continue to do these posts for much the same reason I like taking photographs or making videos — they help me notice, remember and analyze things, people, and events. Mrs. D. and I just returned a few days ago from a spring break trip to Europe (more about that in future posts). As I was telling someone at work about the trip today, I realized what a small percentage of it I actually remember clearly even after such a short time. Places get mixed up, names of restaurants, stores, hotels, streets are a jumble that’s difficult to sort out even a week later. Without my photos (and blog reflections) I fear that many of those memories will fade quickly. I don’t want them to.

I never been a diary or journal-type guy, but I have always been attracted to telling people about stuff that interests me. When I was a kid, my cousin Bruce and I used to publish a “newspaper” whenever we’d get together at my grandmother’s house. We’d go around and interview various family members and write little news articles about them and then make handwritten copies of the paper to try to sell it to the adults. I remember some of the headlines, like “Bruce has Pointed Teeth”, “Timmy Broke his Leg” and “Our Dads both Wear Glasses”. Imagine how cool it would have been for us to have had cameras and computers — but how even more cool it would be to have those old papers now.

Looking through my posts reminds me how short a year is. I’m a believer that as you get older, time goes by faster. It seems like a couple of months ago that my dad died, the Ramgren family left an Easter basket with potatoes in it on my doorstep and Emily and Kyle found and made an offer on their house in Rochester.

The blink of an eye.

So tonight, my 58th year comes to a close. I’ve decided to continue the photo project, but in a little different form. One photo every day was a good exercise and I’ll probably do it again sometime, but it is difficult to keep up. Some days it’s just hard to take a good photo. Other days I might come up with 3 or 4 that I like. So instead of posting a sometimes-crappy picture just because it’s another day, I’m going to try a weekly posting of “Photos of the Week” — 5 to 10-ish pictures shot during each week. I’m hoping this will result in higher over-all quality and fewer days of running around before the sun goes down to try to grab something.

As for “The 58th Year” — well, the name obviously has to go. I’ve been thinking about a new name, but haven’t decided on anything yet. The only thing I know for sure is that it won’t be “The 59th Year”. Suggestions are welcome.

It’s been a great year in so many ways and I’m grateful for that. I don’t know what the next year will bring, but let’s just think about it a day at a time. Works best that way.

So turn the page. Happy new year.

An ice Christmas is a nice Christmas

A while back, when we all used to all try to get together for Christmas, one person announced that his family wouldn’t be attending any more because they were “starting their own tradition”. At the time, I thought “what a jerk — you can’t even drive a couple of miles and spend an hour or two with the rest of us?” I actually pretty much still think that, but his statement did get me thinking. You can start a tradition? Very cool. I hadn’t realized that. Now, a few years later, I’ve come to embrace his philosophy.

Rochester, Minnesota is having an ice Christmas this year


This time of year is rough for a lot of people. Sometimes it has to do with things either not being the “way they used to be” or not being the way they “should be”. If a lot of energy is put into wanting a holiday to play out exactly the same way each year, or to match some mythical standard of a perfect Christmas of our youth, it’s a set-up for disappointment. First of all the math doesn’t work. Over the years there will be people added and people subtracted from the equation. Then there’s the issue of morphing, evolving families. Kids grow up and have in-laws. People can’t be in two places at one time, even when both sets of parents live in the same town. Add in a divorce here, separation there and you’ve got a recipe for unhappiness — unless your “traditions” have some flexibility.

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Since our daughter Emily married Kyle a little before Christmas last year, the tradition landscape has changed at our house. Kyle’s family lives 1200 miles away, so it’s probably going to be different every year. E & K were flying to the east coast a couple of evenings ago, so Emily invited us to have Christmas at their house in Rochester during the day before their flight left. I know that families do this kind of thing all the time, but this was a first for us — and you know what? It was pretty nice.

The day even included a miracle. When I was dispatched to the grocery store for a missing hot pepper, I saw something I thought I’d never see. Driving in front of me down Civic Center Drive in Rochester was a copy of the first NEW car I ever owned — a Dodge Omni! We bought one of the first ones the year they came out — 1978. I had only owned old beaters before that and this little $2,500 beauty was a dream come true.

I'm dreaming of a Dodge Omni. Just like the one I used to own . . . Ours was gray, but this sighting in Rochester sure brought back some memories

. . . . and the winner is -- this handsome 15-foot kid-destoyer in Rochester. Makes for an ice Christmas indeed.

After a few years, the car turned out to be a piece of crap, but it was my first new-car feeling and I still remember the day we bought it. I hadn’t seen one on the road for at least a dozen years and thought I’d never see one again — until this December 23rd miracle.

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Still reeling from the Omni sighting, I took an icicle-viewing walk with Lauren through Emily’s neighborhood. We had seen some impressive stalactites on the way into town and wanted to capture some of them with our cameras.

Then Kyle came home from work at noon and it was time for the Christmas lunch. Sandy had brought a delicious tomatillo chicken soup and Emily made tacos al pastor that were equally tasty.

Emily was enjoying the meal -- finger gesture directed at the photographer notwithstanding.


We opened gifts. Peet enjoyed his very much. I think he’s solidly on board with celebrating Christmas.

Two Jersey boys have now adopted Minnesota sports teams.


Soon it was time to take the “Datermarks” to the airport. It made me very happy that they would be able to spend Christmas with Kyle’s family. Kyle’s parents and brothers have hardly seen him since he and Emily moved to Minnesota six months ago. It’s tough (and will continue to be) for them to have Kyle so far away and I hope they can at least have a lot of holiday family gatherings during the years they live in Minnesota as well as a few other visits now and then.

Emily and Kyle do their best to deal with the holiday rush to check in at the Rochester airport. They landed safely in Scranton later that night for their Christmas in the Poconos.


So we still have Lauren and Peet. Who could ask for more than that?

Visions of sugar plums -- Lauren tells Peet that Santa's coming soon.


On Christmas Eve the three of us (Peet had a little down time) went to see True Grit and then had a very nice dinner at a Thai restaurant. This afternoon we’re doing the second go-round of a tradition we started last year — going bowling with the Powells, who are our neighbors and good friends (and happen to be Jewish). Now that’s one Christmas tradition I’d like to see continue.

This was taken on Christmas day last year. Here' a fun activity for you. See if you can pick out the Jews!


So that’s how we’re celebrating this year. It’s very nice and I’m extremely thankful for it. One of the things I like most about Christmas is that it’s different every year.

Peet wishes you all the best in this holiday season!


Whatever you’re doing today, I hope your day is merry and bright. I hope your traditions are happy, light-hearted and flexible — and don’t be afraid to start a new one.

Merry Christmas!

Top Ten reasons to spend the winter in Minnesota

Kyle helps Lauren build her dream house.

#10. It makes you appreciate NOT spending the winter in Minnesota.

#9. The comforting realization that you could probably live a productive life without fingers, toes, and ears.

#8. If your favorite color is white, it’s a no-brainer.

#7. With a $5 shovel, your driveway can become a work of art.

Hand-sculpted (no snowblower here)


#6. “Hunkering down” is considered an activity.

Emily hunkers down with a cold one.


#5. Ever drive for 45 minutes through a major city and never come to an actual stop? You can do it here!

That red light is just a "suggestion". The driver has to decide whether stopping and possibly getting stuck is worth the risk.


#4. You can make a lot of friends just by pushing cars.

#3. Our new motto. No longer the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, we’re now “Minnesota: Where everything is more difficult”.

#2. You get to say things like, “Anything above 10 degrees ain’t too bad” — and mean it.

#1. Thanks to our handy collapsible stadium, you can get free tickets to see your NFL team play its home games in Detroit!

Our alternative motto could be, "Where dreams come true". Emily has always embraced the winter.

3 Dates run the Twin Cities Marathon

Yesterday was great. I got a chance to run a marathon with my two daughters. Think about that for a minute. What a wonderful thing.

7:00 AM - It's go time! (photo by Kyle Cedermark)

Last April, Emily ran the Charlottesville, Virginia Marathon with her husband, Kyle, his two brothers and their girlfriends. She did very well on a difficult course, posting a 4:19. Younger sister Lauren had also been doing a lot of running over the winter and spring, working her way up to some significant mileage. Dad, on the other hand, had been slowly, but steadily sliding into old age. Although I ran marathons regularly for about 11 years, I had decided in 2002 that I would retire from the sport and put on weight (apparently).

When Emily found out that Kyle had been accepted for a residency position at the Mayo Clinic and they would be moving to Rochester, she called me up and told me she was thinking about entering the Twin Cities Marathon. She asked me if I’d like to run it with her.

Yikes.

I was having trouble running 3 or 4 miles at the time. But of course, I said yes. I would have been a fool to turn down an offer like that.

Lauren and Emily before the marathon (photo by Kyle Cedermark)

When Lauren decided to enter, too, I was thrilled. It would be her first, and I was glad she was going to give it a try.

I wished I had more months to prepare myself and at the same time I couldn’t wait for marathon day to get here. Because Emily lives in Minnesota now, I was able to do some long runs and a couple of races with her (see earlier posts). Lauren was doing her training in Chicago, so I was only getting verbal reports about that. But she did a 5 mile and 10 mile races and then a half-marathon, so I knew she would be ready.

It was a great weekend. It was good to have the whole family (including Kyle) together. We went to the Twins game and the marathon expo on Saturday. The Twins won!

This is what it looks like from the start corral, just before the race begins. (photo by Steve Date)

The three of us ran together for about the first mile and a half. Then Emily took off a little faster than Lauren and I were comfortable with so we ran together for a while. I intended to stay with her longer, but when we went past Alan Page playing his tuba at about the 2.5 mile mark, I ran over to snap a photo of him. After that, I couldn’t find Lauren again in the huge crowd of runners.

Lauren (in center with white shirt) as we ran through the Kenwood neighborhood, just before I lost her. (photo by Steve Date)

Minnesota Viking great and Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page entertains marathon spectators near his home in the Kenwood neighborhood. (photo by Steve Date)

I’ll spare you the details of the actual race, but let’s just say that it was painful. Kyle and Sandy were at mile 7 along with friends Mary and Diane. Then they met us again just before the 18 mile mark.

Emily says goodbye to husband just before the 18 mile mark. (photo by Kyle Cedermark)

Emily finished strong, cutting more than 6 minutes from her previous marathon time to finish in 4:13. Lauren ran a wonderful, steady pace throughout and finished her first marathon in a very impressive 4:25. Little did I know she was only about 30 seconds behind me at the end. I wish we could have crossed the finish line together. But it was very cool being with the two of them just after the finish.

Emily waves to Kyle less than a quarter-mile before the finish line.

Very proud Dad with two great daughters. (photo by Kyle Cedermark)

Gotta have the space blankets. (photo by Kyle Cedermark)

It was an amazing day for me. I’m so proud of the girls. I’m so lucky to have been able to share it with them. It was a day I’ll never forget.

The Date girls are ready for the Twin Cities Marathon

I know you’ve heard this before, but I like my daughters — a lot. Today happened to be one of those days where I was really feeling proud.

Emily and I ran the City of Lakes 25K (that’s 15.5 miles to you and me) this morning. It’s two laps around Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun plus an extra 2/3 loop of Harriet.

Emily looks refreshed and ready to enjoy a cold beverage in her commemorative stein an hour after running 15.5 miles around Lakes Harriet and Calhoun.

As was the case the day Emily and I ran the Gopher to Badger Half-Marathon (see my post from 8/15/10), younger daughter, Lauren was running a race in Chicago. Today it was the Chicago Half-Marathon. Over 13,500 runners finished this behemoth of a race. Lauren did great — ignoring the pain of her blistered feet, she finished in the top 27% of all women and top 39% overall. Way to go, BabyDate!

The City of Lakes is a nice race — beautiful but predictable course, plenty of water and porto-potties, small field of well-under 1,000 runners. One thing Emily and I both noticed right away when we arrived this morning was the general high-quality of the field. This is very much a tune-up race for people planning to run a fall marathon. The vast majority of entrants looked great — lean, mean and serious about running. So we had a little trouble blending in, but we got over it.

Emily was up to the task, running a steady 9-minute pace with enough left in the tank for a little kick during the last mile. I really enjoy running with Emily and I’m so grateful to be able to do these training runs with her. She’s going to do very well in the Twin Cities Marathon — 3 weeks from today.

Lauren is going to do great in the marathon, too. I should mention that she’s gotten herself into shape even while working long, stressful hours at a new job for the past 3 1/2 months. It’s very impressive. I wish I could run with her, too, but she’s over 400 miles away. She prefers running alone, but I’d still like to join her once in a while — or at least be there to cheer her on.

I’m so proud of both of my girls — not just because of the running, but because of the people they’ve become. It’s so cool to see. May all of you be so lucky to have kids like these.

I’m very much looking forward to October 3rd. See you at the Dome — and the Capitol.

There are no available photos from Lauren's race this morning, but I'm guessing she looked pretty much the way she did when she finished her first road race, the Get In Gear 1K in 1992.