Friday, August 31, 2007


First. To show the difference between a dry month and a wet month, I'm bringing out a photo of Minnehaha Falls from July (dry month) followed by a photo of the falls in the wettest August in Twin Cities record keeping. The pictures were taken from nearly the same spot; you may be able to pick out the two trees that are in common in each. I thought I was in the same place, but I didn't have the original photo with me. You may perhaps notice a difference in flow over the precipice.

Minnehaha Falls, July 13, 2007.

Minnehaha Falls August 29, 2007.

The Cedar Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi next to the fallen 35W bridge was open to pedestrians and bikes today. I recommend a stroll across the span, although you will be in the company of a lot of other gawkers. I took the walk this morning and have quite a few photos which I'll try to organize for future blogs. The Mississippi is still blocked by the ex-bridge and the debris is being removed as quickly as it can be jack hammered apart and toted off. It's an other worldly sight.

This evening I went to the National Sports Center's Velodrome to watch bike races. They have races there from May through early September on a 20 year old wooden track. The bikes are single speed and brakeless, but the riders are fast and seemingly fearless. It was a pretty good show, even with the mosquitos and lack of scoreboard. They had some nice bikes, too. There were a couple of crashes, but no serious injuries.

There was a great US Open tennis match last night on the USA network between James Blake and a French guy, Fabrice Santoro, whose nickname is the Magician. Blake won in five sets, but Santoro was amazing to watch. He was cramping during the whole fifth set, but during actual play he ran around like a youngster. Between points he limped and was unable to move without wincing. 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. There were magical moments of shotmaking and retrieving in a very entertaining late night match.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Name this flower

This pretty red flower is probably not native to Minnesota, but appears happy to be here. I found it in a sunny garden in Minneapolis. Does anyone know its name?

It was a beautiful day. Another one in a string of nice days. We had team practice at Highland High School courts. Jerry's 8.0 Mixed Doubles team is playing in the end of season tournament - I think it's called the Areas - on the weekend of September 14th, and we needed to practice some together. I'm going to play quite a bit because I am the only available 4.0 man and the 4.5 men can't play with the 4.0 women (that would be an illegal 9.5 team), and there are a couple of them on the team. Tonight I played a set with Barb and set with Marcia, plus a couple of ten point tie breakers. We played until the sun went down. It was a nice sunset, highly visible from the Highland Courts which sit on top of a St Paul hill. I didn't have my camera with me, so you will have to imagine the beauty of the occasion.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Longfellow's Flower

It was a nice day - coolish in the morning with a clear blue sky. I walked around the grounds at Minnehaha Park and revisited Minnehaha Falls to see if the volume of water was up from July. There was a nice strong stream of water flowing in Minnehaha Creek and over the falls. I didn't include a photo, because the falls has been shown several times before in this space. Besides, I shot this lively blue flower at Longfellow Gardens, just across Hiawatha Avenue from the park. The bees and butterflies evaded this shutterbug, but the flower is pretty. For the benefit of KS, there is also a significant prairie restoration project in progress there by the creek.

There is also a nice statue of Hiawatha and his princess, Minnehaha, at the park. It's a little off the beaten track, but stands very near the creek. It was erected in 1911, so has stood there 96 years.

So much for Minnehaha Falls. I also checked out the hiking trail around Lake Como to see how the cleanup of the multitude of downed trees was going. I would call the progress exceedingly slow, but work men with a truck and hoist were there and they were removing dried up branches and leaves from ex-oaks and ex-ashes. The guy operating the hoist was working and the other five guys were watching. They'll be done with the cleanup by snow fly, I expect.

Tennis tonight at Marie Park. I played in the lower range of acceptable and my team lost both sets. It was a beautiful night, however, and it was enjoyable just to be out in the weather. The other guys appreciated the wins and didn't indulge in cheap taunting. Not a bad outing, all in all.

The U.S. Open continues. I watched a couple of sets of Nadal winning his opening match against an Aussie qualifier who was ranked about 125 in the world. Nadal is number two. Nadal also seems to be having knee problems. He probably plays too much tennis, and from today's action I'm pretty sure that he won't make it to the finals this year. That's just a guess, of course.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


We have plenty of rain the last few days. Overnight we had a deluge and some power outages were reported.

I played tennis indoors at Wooddale last night because of the threat of rain. We are getting the mixed doubles team ready for the sectionals in September, so it was an oppportunity for practice with the team and get some court action. My 8.0 team qualified for the tournament via the back door. We didn't win the league (it was the winter league), but the team that won the winter league also won in the summer, so we were moved up. We'll be playing the second weekend in September at Reed Sweatt (aka Nicollet Tennis Center). Last night we split sets and then won the ten point third set tie-breaker.

The US Open started this week in New York. The Williams sisters are both playing and both won in the first round. They are in the same bracket so won't be playing eah other for the title this year as they have in the past. I'm predicting another Williams tournament win, but I'm not saying which one until after they play each other. The men's title may go to the new kid on the block, the Serb youngster, Novak Djokavic, but Nadal and Federer are more likely this year. Djokavic holds recent victories over both Nadal and Federer. Not a small feat.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Crosswords

No tennis today. It was a beautiful day and I was outside quite a bit. One of the tennis crowd had an open house this afternoon, so I spent a couple of hours talking about tennis and the unfortunate closing of the Lilydale tennis facility. And how sorry we are that the new owner is losing his shirt because the real estate market, especially for condos, seems to have tanked. He has yet to demolish the old building and seems to be in arrears on his property tax payments, according to interested and informed sources.

The New York Times Sunday crossword puzzles had one of those nasty little gimmicks today. The title, "Buried Treasure" was meant to refer to the gimmick: use the symbol for gold (AU) in a single square in selected words to answer a clue. There was reference to Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" song and a requirement to supply some of the lyrics. Thankfully, google knows almost all things, even 53 across, the first Shia imam, Ali. "I've been a miner for a heart of gold" are the Neil Young lyrics.

I close with a photo from the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis on the mighty Mississippi. The new Guthrie Theatre is in the middle of the photo, with the "bridge to nowhere" protruding towards the river. There were people on the deck when the photo was taken. It offers a high view of the collapsed 35W bridge, but at a considerable distance.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Museum

I was up early for tennis. Adam was off to Chicago again early and won't be back until Sunday night. We played at eight a.m. while the clouds were still with us. The geezer tennis players had a substitute today, because Curt was off on a quest. The new guy is 68 and thus I fell to third eldest on the court. The adjoining court was used by women's doubles - women well known to us from Lilydale. I wouldn't have been in the older half of that foursome either. The tennis on both courts was pretty good and we passed about two hours playing three sets and I finished a little used up and without any water left. I don't remember the scores. I did remember to have a nap this afternoon.

It's a beautiful evening, too. I managed to get the long grass mowed back to a socially acceptable level - even the yarrow - and spent some time lounging on the patio. The tomatoes are still bearing fruit and there will be more zukes. The rain of the last week was a huge problem for southern Minnesota, but turned a lot of the brown spots in St Paul a lovely deep green.

This photo is from my ride on West River Road in Minneapolis. It's an Art Museum. One that I would like to visit one day to check out its collection of Georgia O'Keefe paintings. I only know about Georgia O'Keefe because KS wrote a paper about her while in high school. O'Keefe was born in Wisconsin and is famous for big bold images of flowers. The museum is the Weisman Museum on the campus of the University of Minnesota and is known for its avant garde architecture. The photo illustrates that pretty well.

The Minnesota State Fair is in its third day and all the news creatures from our local TV stations are telecasting from the fairgrounds. Most of the news centers around the new kinds of food on a stick at the fair. There is even a place that sells hot dogs with peanut butter and mustardo. Yum.

There is rumor of a visit from a wise woman from the east. Someone with an assumed Italian moniker.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Search for the 35W Bridge

A fine day arrived in Minnesota after a long string of cloudy and rain. I haven't been on a bike ride in a while and I wanted to get a good view of the collapsed 35W bridge. It has been hard to get even a distant view until the last few days and I suspected that there would be some better vantage points available today. I'm not sure why I wanted to see the wreckage for myself, but I found that I wasn't the only one with the same impulse.

I decided to cross the Lake Street Bridge to Minneapolis and go up the West River Road until I could get close enough to see what was happening at the wreckage. I made it to the sign that told me the road was closed - somewhere north of Franklin Avenue - and went inland a while to the West Bank campus of the U of Mn. I rode along Washington Avenue and managed to get right next to 35W about a quarter of a mile from the bridge. There was no traffic on the three or four lanes leading to the river. There also was no view of the bridge. After more roaming around, no view seemed possible on the downtown side so I decided to bike home and try the east bank later on. It was a 17 mile round trip, so, given my questionable biking condition, I opted to drive to the Cedar Avenue Btridge by the U of Mn and drive across. However it was closed so I parked on 8th Avenue near University and walked. I found some places to see some of the bridge, but the yellow caution tape is everywhere and the viewing is not too easy. Or satisfying. This one is on University on the bridge over 35W looking towards downtown.

This is on Second Street, south of University where it is possible to get fairly close to the bridge approach. The concrete on the standing parcel in the photo wasn't injured in the collapse, it's just old and starting to crumble. This is near where some people have conjectured that the collapse began.

This is at the end of Main Street, the parallel street closest to the River. The bridge area is fenced off and there are men working inside the fence. There are also memorials hung on the fence to the unlucky 13 who were killed here.

I also had a stroll on the Stone Arch Bridge. There are some parts of the bridge in sight, but it's a fair distance from the bridge and the details are not easy to make out. There were a lot of people with cameras and people just looking at the scene, trying to take in its meaning. It's been over three weeks since the tragedy and it is still hard to find a place to take it all in.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Century Mark

This is my 100th post on the Tennis Tousan Blog. In celebration, I present a photo of Taggy. [I had no other good photos, so why not.]

The rain stayed away most of the day. The Wednesday group of tennis players assembled, swept the water off the courts, drew for partners, and then we slugged it out. I played three sets with three different partners and won only one of the sets. 6-7, 7-5, 3-6. I was weary by the last set and missing on six of the eight cylinders. I may need a daytime nap tomorrow, a luxury of the retired among us. The weather creatures are prognosticating all day precipitation on the morrow, so a welcome day of rest may be upon us. The people living in the Winona area got another rainstorm today, on top of the 15 plus inches that they got in a 24 hour period earlier this week. It's time to build an ark.

The Minnesota State Fair begins tomorrow. It's a place to get almost any kind of food on a stick.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The lightening prevails

There was some tennis today. We had enough time for a little more than two sets of doubles. The scores were 4-6, 6-1, and 2-1 in the third when the dark sky lit up with nearby lightening. We nearly immediately decided that the third set was not worth the risk of a frying death. We quit and on the way off the courts the sky opened and it rained hard again.

About noon I went to Como Park to check on the tree harvesters. I walked around the lake. The chain saws and the Park employess were hard at it. Many of the downed trees are still being removed. There are painted red rings around the trees that are too wounded to continue living. The mercy killing will go on for some more days. It's a sad place for tree huggers, but a bonanza for free lance tree services.

Whose birthday is portrayed here? There appear to be eight candles on the cake. Maybe it's Tom. Then it is May, 1949. Then Gino would be less than three years old. He looks older than that to me. If it is October, 1950, it is TT's birthday and Gino is four years old. I think we moved to the Iron Range in the fall of 1950. Whose birthday is it?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Calamities happen

I played indoor tennis tonight at Wooddale. It's been raining since Saturday morning, on and off. Mostly on. We took the game inside because we could. It was three sets of uneven tennis. The lighting is different inside, but there is no wind, and only half lobs because of the ceiling. The gang of geezers participated. Tennis Dennis will be having cataract surgery soon, followed by hip replacement surgery. He has about two weeks to play, so when we are scheduled, we play.

The drive to Wooddale took me through Spaghetti Junction - the interchange of highways in downtown St Paul. The traffic was as clogged as I've ever seen it. I think the city is feeling the loss of the 35W bridge and more of the traffic burden goes on 94 through St Paul. Traffic patterns have changed and people have to get used to the new reality, and must find new routes home. We're going to be clogged for a while.

It has been a bad streak for Minnesota. This weekend was the big rain and flooding in the southeastern part of the state - 17 inches of rain near Winona. At least six people were killed and beaucoups damage to homes in the area. Last week it was wind storms taking out the big trees at Como Park and the State Fair Grounds. On August 1st the 35W bridge collapsed and they are still searching for the last missing person. It has been a bad spell, but things could be worse. See below. Ground zero in Hiroshima. The Japanese people left standing the shell of the building at ground zero, as a visual reminder that worse things can happen unless we remain vigilent. This building was directly below the atomic bomb dropped there in August, 1945, and miraculously, partially survived. For 62 years.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Noah had an ark

It rained all day. Sometimes a hard rain, sometimes a drizzle. It was a slow Sunday here. Parts of southeast Minnesota, near St Charles and Winona, close to the first of our MSTRAM routes, had a deluge over night. There were reports of 17 inches of rain in spots and six people were killed. It's been a bad month in Minnesota - the bridge collapse, the Como windstorm and now the deluge. Someone is apparently angry at us.

This is another photo of SS (another LuLu for NM), this time from 1948 or so, judging again by the age of the baby boy on Lillie's lap. That baby is Mr. Moohoo. SS is the blond, Dorothy Anderson (at the time, then McCune), Lillie's sister is at the right. Hansine is there, too, on the left, but it's not much of a photo of her. They are sitting on the steps of Hansine and Richard's homestead, a house that no longer exists. What I find interesting is the expression on Lillie's face. It is a stern look, perhaps some anger, perhaps just introspection caught in the camera as the moment passed. SS looks pretty content, not under any stress, so who knows. Incidentally, GZ is wearing some kick-ass booties.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Rain is coming for the weekend

It was a fine late summer day in the Capitol City. I had a walk around Hidden Falls Park and along the Mississippi River bank. There were many other people there enjoying the beautiful day. I guess that tomorrow's tennis may get rained out, at least according to my favorite TV weather creature, Sven.

I like this photo partly because it shows the farm yard at Dick's Ranch in the way I remember it. Also it is a cute picture of the Michigan contingent of Dick's grandchildren, Santini and Bud. I think it is about 1948. Notice that the barn door is open. I scanned the original photo in and cropped and enhanced via Apple's iPhoto.

This may be my last use of shots of the trip to the B&B by the Lake. It was just after we arrived and KS was being hustled off to Tunnel Park. She was happy to get to the beach and the big lake. The Waving Family is well represented in the photo.

I picked some more of those backyard tomatoes. I'm starting to get a little tired of eating the beautiful red veggie, but I think they will be lasting a few more weeks.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tunnel Parking

The hill at Tunnel Park is an attraction for visitors to the Tulip Capitol of Michigan. Here we have UH and KS, along with the SLO's, running up the hill, in a display of youthful vigor. The county keeps this part of the dune as sand so that when we visit there is a place for the crazies among us to have some fun. It's a great event. I claim the record for the oldest downhill runner at this venue, unofficially, of course. I haven't run uphill in years.

An old photo from about 1949 - just guessing from the apparent age of Gino. I don't remember the car, nor do I know the location of the shot, but I know the people involved - Santini, the father, Gino, TT, and GPa. I scanned it in early in August and used iPhoto to fix it up some. Does anyone know where it was taken? And is that the family car that is serving as a bench? Santini says she was noted for her lack of modesty at that age, but who really remembers? She and Gino are wearing shoes.

This afternoon I found the picnic table at Como Park where I had sushi on Tuesday with Kagami Sensei. The City of St Paul workers were busily loading the oak trees and branches into trucks to be transported elsewhere for chipping. The place smelled of oak kindling.

The West Coast Eagles are the defending champions of Australian Rules Football.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Japan's Gain

The trip to Michigan and the summer fun that goes with it are done for another August. This is the last photo from our stay at Santini's B&B. It is fitting that KS is waving, and that she is in the water with the SLO's (upgraded by TJ to BLO's). She spent a considerable time in the big water, swimming, body surfing, and playing kid-eating shark with the kids. She's now back in Japan, having arrived there at about 4 a.m. our time today.

Tonight was a big night for geezer tennis. We had eight players: seven men and one quite good woman. It was mix and match, using Bill's card system to begin and then winners against winners. After that, Tennis Dennis and I played Dennis Tennis against Jerry and Becky to finish out the night. Two hours plus on a humid afternoon and evening added up to a strong thirst and thus I'm hydrating as I type. Cold water tastes very good.

I had another tour around Como's tree carnage this afternoon. It's an amazing sight. The damage to trees was localized and areas just a hundred yards from downed trees were spared the loss of limbs. There are a lot of trees gone - many of them ash trees - but quite a few strong oaks remain.

The championship tournament of Australian Rules Football is in August down under. I used to watch it on cable, but their time has been usurped by garbage "extreme" sports manufactured for the American taste. They should televise real team sports like the AFL, rugby, and cricket. People in the rest of the world get pretty emotional about these sports. Are you listening ESPN?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Big Red and some blue

I start with a photo that I took at Holland State Park in the middle of a "death march" last week. The light house that I know as Big Red, is an icon of the area and my annual trip there, and it is the subject of many photos that I have taken. I like this one because it has blue in it and I know what the blue thing is. A hand rail next to the side walk out to the pier. It was a nice family vacation brightened by the visit of GPa Tom.

Today was jumping off day for the youngster. KS packed her bags and went to the airport. She's in the air as I write, winging her way to Nagoya and another stint as English teacher and adventurer. It was great to have her home, but the three weeks flew by. I include a photo taken at the Humphrey Terminal just prior to her departure. Herb was there, in his Cray Sweet Sixteen tee, to see her off before going on to work himself.

Tomorrow is a tennis day as the normal pattern of life returns. It'll be good to see the other geezers and smack a few forehands down the line. The vacation is over. Time to get back to retirement.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Two Bads

It is KS's last full day in the USA this time around. She and I went to Super Target for vitamins and discovered sushi and Pocky. So we went on a picnic to Como Park. Sadly, Como Park was struck with vicious winds on Saturday and the picnic area was strewn with old oak trees felled by nature's might. The area pictured is near the big picnic area, very near the zoo. The large crumpled oak was surrounded by its past glory. KS is there for scale and her acting. The whole scene was very sad.

We took a ride over to the University of Minnesota to see if we could glimpse the 35W bridge rubble. The public has been restricted to just barely a glimpse - see below. It's protected by yellow tape and rent-a-cops. It was much less illuminating than the TV images, but it was real and there is an impact to that. They are still searching for four missing people who went down with the bridge.

I measured the Toyota Matrix's gas mileage in our return from Michigan. I filled up in Holland, once in Roscoe, Illinois, and again this a.m. at the Seventh Street Super America. We traveled 562.8 miles, used 16.595 gallons of petrol for which we paid $46.72. Ergo, 33.91 mpg, $0.083 per mile, $0.0277 per mile per person. Even with a fairly heavy foot on the gas the Matrix was exemplary.

The blueberries we brought home from Michigan were Eliots. I didn't ask the blueberry seller of the variety when I bought them, but I now know blue crop's taste. These are the much tarter Eliots. So it goes.

KS leaves in the morning for the Orient. It seems like she just arrived and now it's nearly time for her to fly back.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Off Again, On Again, Gone Again

Herb. KS, and TT took a road trip to the far regions and now are home again. This picture is from the visit of TM to Santini's vacation hideaway, taken on Wednesday, I think. If there are better versions of this, and there surely must be, please email. I know that the cameras were blazing away.

I have more to relate and photos to share.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Fun in Black and White

Things that you don't see in St. Paul. Not this year or any year since 1950, anywhere else.

As Little Kick says. "There is no triking without Gene.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Flowers for Reunions

Aways start with something pretty and finish with pithy. These flowers are offspring of the black-eyed susans from KS plantings of two years back. They are thriving in a new location, near the garage door.

An old photo taken on the steps of 108 Hartley in Coleraine in 1952. The little family photographed probably by Lillie. This photo in honor of reunions, past and future. Gene, Sylvi, Tommy, Tom, Jim.

KS and I walked through the neighborhood around noon for exercise and to do some chatting. We walked to Dale and back, but I forgot the camera and missed snapping a great piece of folk wood carving which may show up here sometime in the future. It was a nice day.

The TV continued the story of the bridge collapse on 35W in Minneapolis. The latest toll seems to be four fatalities and eight still missing. It's a horrendous event and one I am happy to be only an observer. This story will be with this city for a long time. Words fail me, when I need something pithy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bridge on 35W Collapse

The bridge collapse at 6:05 pm on 35W over the Mississippi River was a big disaster. Everyone that I know is okay, and I am thankful. KS is at a performance of "Spamalot" in St Paul with Wireless and BB. UH was at work.

The TV is saying that the bridge structure failed and there was no sign of terrorism. There will be months of investigations and a conclusion will be reached. Traffic congestion on Twin Cities roads is about to get worse, too.

Not breakfast.