Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Pooh

The neighborhood elm sculpture was redecorated for Halloween. Appropriate for the day.

Another October fades to black.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween Eve

Actually Halloween means All Hallows Eve, so today is Halloween-een(!). It was a beautiful fall day. The high temperature was 69 degrees and it felt like summer again. I spent a lot of time in the outdoors. I went for a walk to get the juices moving and then removed the current generation of leaves from the lawn. I also removed the tomato plants from their spot in the backyard. They froze last weekend and besides they have not gifted me with any red fruit in weeks. Gone.

This photo is from Como Park. I took it using the self timer on the camera. I was walking and gawking near the picnic pavilion and found a structure about the right height to rest the camera on. It's a nice part of the park.

Curling is on the agenda for tomorrow. No tennis until Thursday night.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Last Swing Through October

It was 64 degrees and I had just returned from a hike around the lake at Como. The phone message indicated that the other geezers had decided to play outside for one last time this fall. Curt is leaving for an experiment in retirement living tomorrow morning. He is going to spend four months in Arkansas to escape the icy fingers of cold that Minnesota is renowned for, and thus will winnow down the geezers to the stalwart four. So we played outside, beginning at 4:45 and playing until the dark captured the courts again, at about six. Lighting this time of year gets pretty iffy in the evening, with the shadows lengthening and the oblique sun shining in the eyes of anyone trying to serve or hit an easy overhead. But we played anyway, to celebrate and enjoy the day that Curt went to Arkansas. There were Arkansas jokes - about accents and roadkill and mobile homes. Curt and I won the next to last set, 6-4, to send him off with the thrill of a victory. One more set in the dwindling sun and October tennis is over.

Halloween is just two days away.

The Red Sox are World Serious Champions again, for the second time in four years. The Curse of the Bambino has finally timed out. It's a good year to be a sports fan in Massachusetts.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Attaching Strings

The hard freeze came in this morning and finally ended the tomato season on Fairmount. I was starting to think that it would last through until November, but it's over. But nonetheless it was a beautiful day after the cold air warmed. Herb and I took a trek around the neighborhood looking for Halloween decor. There were some reasonably nice ideas exhibited by the Halloween lovers in the area, but none that beat the gi-mungus witch I saw last week. There were some areas with beautiful maple leaves and some areas where the ash trees have given up their clothes and stand naked.

I took this photo on Summit Avenue at House of Hope Presbyterian Church. There is a bush that seems undecided about changing colors and a stone angel standing sentinel. Or maybe it's Mary, mother of Jesus. Anyhow, it's Sunday and thus appropriate.

I spent about four hours restringing my recently purchased Wilson racket. I'm getting a little faster at it, but it is plain that I'll never make a living restringing rackets. It is satisfying, however, to be able to put new strings in my racket whenever I feel the urge. [Not very often.]

The 2007 World Serious is nearly over. The Red Sox won last night 10-5 to take a 3-0 lead in games. They are ahead again tonight, 4-1 in the eighth inning and may sweep the Rox 4-0. The curse of the Babe has likely been cured, it appears. It's just baseball.

Late note: Rox have closed to 4-3 in the 8th. Check the local fish wrap for the scores in the morning.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Into Every Life a Little Rain ...

I played some Saturday morning tennis today at Wooddale. The geezers' ages today totaled 262, the youngest was 62, but the tennis was pretty good. On the way out of the parking lot, I got a flat tire on the Matrix. It was my first flat tire in many years, but I was able to get the flat off and replace it with the skinny spare that they furnish now with cars. I'm just glad that it didn't happen on the freeway or on a cold winter day. I remember a flat that I had in the MGB i drove back in the seventies. I loved that MGB. The flat came on a twenty below day in January, somewhere in the northern suburbs. I was able to get the spare on that time, too, but it wasn't a pleasant occasion.

Not much other recreational activity to report. I was busy mourning the lost hours wrestling with the jack.

The picture is not very inspiring today either, but I have shown the backyard maple several times and now it is down to the "last leaves on the tree." The end of the series, no doubt, for the year.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Hunter's Moon

For a day that started out at 33 degrees, it didn't turn out half bad. It reached 54 degrees in the early afternoon. By sundown I was driving in rush hour traffic on US 94 on the way to the Oakdale Lifetime Fitness Club for a USTA match. The drive into the sun wasn't too bad, but the traffic was thick, partly, I think, because of the loss of the 35W bridge in August. I found the club and played some reasonably good tennis against a couple of good players. It was mixed doubles and Marsha was my partner. We were competitive but lost 6-4, 6-2. It was just tennis.

This is Herb before he left to go to work this morning. As you can see, he dresses like a computer professional, which, in fact, he is.

It was a full moon overnight. It's the one called the Hunter's Moon, because the moon is so big and bright. This time of year is when the moon is at its closest and is considerably larger than usual and brighter in the sky for that reason.

The Sox beat the Rox 2-1 and now lead the World Serious 2 games to none.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Curling Season Sweeps In

The Halloween season is in full bloom. A lot of people in St Paul go all out in decorating their houses in hopes of scaring the bejesus out of the tuskers that come to their door for candy. While riding through the neighborhood I ran across a couple of pretty good examples. I don't know of any contest for the largest witch in town, but the first one has the largest witch that I have seen and represents some real labor in getting it affixed to the roof.

This one has a nice array of scary items and seems pretty well turned out. I have seen others about that may need to be photographed, too. Two years ago, when KS went to Japan to teach, she brought a Halloween costume with her, at her boss's request, for the school Halloween program. She also asked me to send some photos of decorated homes to show to the kids, because they don't have the same tradition of dolling up their homes for the holiday. I seems to a USA thing. So I've scouted out some of the decorations in this area, too.

Yesterday was the kickoff of the curling season. We had a game at 4:50 and another at 9 pm, so I spent a lot of the day in the curling club. My team in each case came out a little short on the scoreboard, but it's early in the season yet, and we may develop into a force in the leagues. Anyway, it's just curling.

There was tennis tonight at Wooddale. It was a session of mixed doubles with the hardcore girls and Jerry. It's always fun to play, and there are always some good points and one or two seemingly miraculous points. Tonight, I can remember two. You had to be there to appeciate them, however, because there is no video at Wooddale. We finished two sets and started a third before being evicted from the court by the next renter. 6-4, 6-4 were the scores.

The Red Sox won the first game of the Series in Boston. Sox beat Rox 13-1.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A May Day Near Halloween

Man, it was 65 degrees today. I had the day off from tennis, and curling is still a day away, but, man, it was 65 degrees today. I took myself to Como Park for a picnic, and then walked around the lake. There were lots of people and a few wished me a good day. It was so nice a day that I took myself across Lexington to the area by the Japanese Garden and the Conservatory. Many of the show-off trees were displaying colorful foliage in various stages of disintegration. This one was near the reflecting pond and had some nice leaves, especially near the bottom. There was the St Paul version of the Acopolis in the frame. It was about 2 pm and the sky was blue. I snapped the shutter. Later it got windy and blew most of the leaves off my pretty backyard maple tree (and maybe the one by the Acropolis), but it was a very nice day in October.

There is still some hope that my biking mileage may increase, but I'm blown away by the mileage attained by my younger sibs. Good job, youngsters.

Monday, October 22, 2007

October Tennis Ball Smacking

It was pretty enough to play tennis outside. But, because the days are shortening rapidly we had to start at 4 pm. When the cast is composed of geezers, there is little impetus to stay at work when the nice days are scramming. Only two of the four geezers in attendance are still working so we met and warmed up with the mercury teetering at 56 degrees on the Matrix thermometer. Even when the sun is out these days, it is low in the sky, and the shadows along with the slanted light make the visibility iffy as day turns to night, but we played enthusiastically if not aesthetically. Tennis Dennis was back for more fun, and we managed to remember the score all evening. Three sets, knackered, and home by 6:30. Again, no blood on the courts.

I revive a photo from last week showing a visit to the Como Conservatory, a sanctuary for the winter months when one yearns for flowers and the feel of high humidity. The mums were beautiful and the nude statue appealing I'll be going back there over the winter to refresh my spirit when January is wearing on me. As it will.

The World "Serious" starts tomorrow. The Red Sox and the team from Colorado will be competing. I'm picking the Sox, because I like this Ortiz guy that used to suit up for the Twinks.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Autumn Trek Photos

The Blogger facility is working a little better today,so I'm uploading the photos that I wanted to use yesterday. Blogger failed me once today, but my repeated upload attempts eventually succeeded.

Yestreday's bike trek began in my own backyard. My sweet little maple tree is beginning to drop all her leaves. They changed color and then the winds came and this is what remained yesterday.

My journey took me to the River Road across the Ford Parkway bridge, and by Minnehaha Falls. It rained for about 18 of the last 21 days, so this is quite high water in the Creek that flows over the precipice. It's a fierce waterfall this month compared with the July barely adequate flow. And the leaves have decided to redecorate.

This is the photo of the spot where the trek odometer reached 400 miles for the year. A puny total for some, but not insignificant for most Social Security recipients. The bridge behind the bike goes to Pike Island in the lowland below Fort Snelling. It is one of the few places in the Twin Cities that you will find a sign forbidding bicycle travel. (There is another one very near Minnehaha Park in the Longfellow Gardens area). It was a busy place when I rode there yesterday, today it was likely deserted.

I found my broom and sliding shoes for curling and went to the club on Selby for the open house today. The place was populated with new curlers, but the event was not very well organized. I watched for a while, then came home to watch the Vikings lose another game, this one to the Dallas 'Boys. I think I'll be able to remember the curling delivery for the first night on the ice this Wednesday.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Three Bridges to Home

The day was another gift from the summer gods. The geezer gang met at 9 am to play some doubles. There were eight of us, so we used Bill's cards to determine partners. I drew Tennis Dennis, he with the knee brace, and we played two sets together before he had enough tennis and had to quit. 7-6, 6-0, although we weren't playing all that well. We were accused of using age and experience against the young whipper-snappers (guys in their fifties and sixties). The other court had another instance wherein everyone forgets the score of the game and then argues about it until the argument has to be settled by a racket spin. No one got hurt.

It was also a good day to have a bike ride and perhaps get to another goal, although it's only about an eighth of Santini's 3000. I took a triangular route, crossing three river bridges and getting home after 18 total miles. I crossed the Mississippi at Ford Parkway, passed Minnehaha Falls, rode down along the river to Pike Island, and climbed the big hill by Fort Snelling. I continued by crossing the Minnesota River on the Mendota Bridge, rode through Mendota to Lilydale and crossed the Mississippi again on the 35E bridge. It was a good ride, except a time or two, when the Moron family surfaced and tried to knock me off the bike.

I have some photos from the day, but Blogger is acting up tonight and won't allow me to upload any of them. So they will have to wait until another day

I'm watching major league baseball tonight, the ALCS. The Red Sox are roughing up the Indians in Boston. It's the first of the playoff games that I've seen this year. They are still playing by the same rules as last year. (10-1 in the 3rd inning.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Bad Weather

A nice photo of a Minnehaha Park fountain that is sprouting foliage:

It's been a while since I wrote anything here. The weather has been bad - rain and cloudy - and it's hard to stay positive when the sun is absent. Tomorrow is predicted to be sunny for at least part of the day, so normalcy may reign (not rain).

There was some tennis last night at Wooddale with Jerry and the hardcore girls. We played two sets but Jerry had to leave early (for another tennis match) and we quit early. It was the first tennis for about a week and I was a little tentative, but we were a tad better and prevailed.

It's time for outdoor tennis to be over. The courts at Marie have been puddled for over a week and wet leaves have added to the decorations. There will be a few nice Saturdays yet, maybe, but the days are short and midweek tennis ball swatting is probably finis.

But. Curling starts next week and the first practice session is Sunday. I'm starting my search for my broom tomorrow.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Well, it's October 10th and it is a real fall day. The temperature barely made it to fifty degrees and it was cloudy all day long. Herb and I chatted for a while with the OWITIJ (one who is teaching in Japan) this morning. It was abbreviated because Herb needed his computer to address some crisis at his job and that process sucks up all the bandwidth that we have in the house. OWITIJ had just returned from swimming and talked about her friends and her job in Okaki. She's going to chat with us again Sunday.

There was no biking from this house. I made a trek to the Apple store in Rosedale to try to buy a replacement battery for this laptop. When I arrived at the store I discovered that they are remodeling and won't be selling anything there until the 13th. So I'm getting by with the old battery and a long cord to an electrical outlet to keep it juiced.

There was outside tennis at 5 p.m. with the geezers. We all played in sweatpants and sweatshirts or jackets against the chill. A new guy came tonight and claimed special treatment for being the oldest guy on the courts, of the eight who were playing. But he was only 61 and had to settle for 5th oldest. He didn't seem too crestfallen, and he was a good player. We squeezed in two and a half sets before the light began to fail and we were forced to stand around and shoot the breeze (or something). The prediction for the rest of the week appears to be more of the same, so we'll be moving the game inside soon enough.

My new used racket purchased on eBay has not yet arrived, so my racket stringer has not yet been pressed into service. I'm planning to use different colored strings so that I can tell the difference between the rackets and perhaps crown a favorite.

There is no photo on this blog today.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Twelve Days for a Maple Tree

The heat wave is over, probably for the year. The high today was 67 and it's back to 53 now, so it feels like October again. We had an inch and a half of rain today. The trees are beginning to change colors with a vengence. My backyard maple tree is pictured on September 26.

The maple tree on October 8, today. Twelve days later. It's changing colors on the way to winter.

Baseball is in the middle of playoffs. I think the Yankees were eliminated from contention tonight by the Cleveland team. I used to watch baseball faithfully, especially as a kid. Dad was a big Yankee fan and had stories about Ruth and Gehrig from the days of his youth. And since he coached baseball and filled us with the lore and magic of major leaguers, I was a big Yankee fan. It was the days of Mantle, Maris, Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, and all those names from the great teams of the 50's and 60's. This week is playoff time and I can't even name all the teams, but I know that there are a lot of millionaires playing the game. This is the era of Steinbrenner. I guess that I lost that loving feelin'.

And steroids strike down Marian Jones. I guess that it isn't just bikers and aging home run hitters that have connections to the Balco Lab. She seemed so clean and honest, too.

There was tennis today again, three sets at the indoor Wooddale club with the regular set of geezers. It was good tennis again, long points and good competition. No blood was shed.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Steamy Sunday Smacking

It's still too hot in St Paul. It reached 81 degrees and although the temp is down a bit, the dewpoint is still 70 degrees, which the Strib weather guy calls uncomfortable. Muggy. I had a chance to sweat profusely again today at the Marie courts. Dennis and I hit tennis balls, trying to get him back into the game after his cataract surgery and the cortisone injection for his hip. He's been out for about six weeks, but seemed back on his game today.

Heb and I had a bike ride yesterday to Como Park in the steamy air. Herb is standing next to a very large tree that was blown down in the big storm early in August. KS was still in town then. The tree is still lying on the ground, but it isn't blocking the path. We rode around the lake and then rode over to the Conservatory and Zoo.

Herb took this photo of TT on the ride around the lake. It more or less proves that I was along and that my outfit of the day was far from stylish, but functional. The ride continued through Hamline U. and back along Chatsworth to the homestead. About 15 miles.

I had an eBay experience this week. I've been looking for a tennis racket that duplicates and backs up my Hyper Prostaff 6.1 racket. There was a used one on sale on eBay that fit the bill, but unstrung, that I thought I could buy cheap and restring. I thought that I could get it with a $30 dollar bid, but competition materialized and I had to make a last minute strategic bid to get it for $76 - about half price of a new one. It should arrive in a few days and I'll have another opportunity to use the racket stringer that I bought from GZ. It was a plan, but mostly a puny plan. It'll be nice to try out this new, but used weapon.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Best Rock

The summer should be over by now, but Septober was followed by Augtober and tomorrow is predicted to be 85 degrees - thus Jul-tober. I'm posting the best of the Minnesota Rocks series. Judges took into account the quality of the carving and the setting in which it has been placed. I choose "Meditation" by Lei Yixin, which is situated at Phalen Park. Nice job, Lei.

It rained over an inch of water over night, but I was able to hit a few tennis balls anyhow, in Mendota Heights. The warm weather required a little tennis ball smacking.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


It was such a beautiful day, so after I mowed the grass, I took one of my infrequent treks on the Trek that I got for free from a real biker several years ago. It was early afternoon and I knew I had to play mixed doubles tonight with the hardcore girls and Curt, so I thought I'd keep it to about ten miles. I went down Benhill to Victoria and across 7th to Shepherd Road and continued to Crosby Farm Park along the mighty Misssissippi. There were lots of people walking their respective dogs on the trail, but it was warm and pleasant, so I just ambled along. I found this large bed of Back-Eyed Susans and decided to try to get a photo with the Trek imbedded in them. This is about as good a shot as I got, but I tried. Then I rode home, up Benhill, and the odometer read 15 miles. I'm closing in on a mileage milestone.

The mixed doubles was competitive and a lot of fun. We played inside at Wooddale. We played three hard sets, lots of long points, and went home knackered - speaking strictly for me. I think I need a day off.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Tennis Ball Swatting and iChatting

It was a very nice day after yesterday's rain. I played a lot of tennis. I went early to warm up with Curt and had to sweep the courts before playing. This time it was leaves, but Curt had earlier rid the courts of puddles and wet foliage. It's starting to seem like going inside to play would be a better idea than all this sweeping. But it was a beautiful evening, very little wind and a clear sky. The lighting was good until about six o'clock and then it became distracting because the sun was so low in the sky and the shadows were very long. We played until the sun went completely over the horizon. 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Curt was forced to tote the turkey trophy home today. I went home knackered.

This a photo of Herb doing Yoga. I don't know the manuver, but I know that I can't do it. Maybe he's a pretzel. He has several other poses that I also find impossible.

Below is a quoted email from Adam chronicling an iChat session that he had with his dad (me) yesterday. It may amuse a few readers:

"So funny I nearly poo'ed myself.

(6:21:02 PM) dad: Adam, you there?
(6:21:10 PM) Yep.
(6:21:42 PM) dad: Do you want Papa Murph's for din-din?
(6:21:50 PM) Sure.
(6:22:03 PM) Do you want me to get it?
(6:22:12 PM) dad: OUI!!!!!
(6:22:28 PM) lol :-)
(6:22:44 PM) I'll call now and come home.
(6:23:34 PM) dad: :-) :-)
(6:23:54 PM) dad: See you when you get here.
(6:24:09 PM) See ya.
(6:24:17 PM) dad has signed off. ":

The place to laugh is at "OUI". Maybe you had to be there.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Dark Themish Day Plus One

I'm a day late with the theme day photo, and a dollar short. My archives offered up this photo of Takehara, Japan, the original place of employment of Kagami Sensei when she went to teach English there. I took this photo when Herb and I visited in May, 2006. The cemeteries in Takehara are on the sides of the cliffs - not really hills, not really mountains. Two theories. The flat land is too valuable to use for cemeteries, and, for the same reason, they plant the ancesters real close together. The other theory is that the ancesters should reside as close to the sky as possible, so they are buried high in the "hills."

The photo was taken from above, from a higher ledge where there were other graves packed close together. The view of the city shows how close together the houses are built, and, to some extent, the beauty of the countryside. This is the town where KS spent more than a year of her life. It's about a half an hour by train from Hiroshima.

It rained all day in River City. Not much happened on bikes or tennis courts.

The last segment of Ken Burns' "the War" was on PBS tonight. This segment had footage dealing with the Atomic Bomb at Hiroshima, the battle on Okinawa, and the Holocaust. There were enough bad images to wish for the end of all war. An idea worth considering.

Monday, October 1, 2007

High Tech Windmill

There has been a request for a photo of this windmill. It's functional, but not traditional. It stands on the Macalester College campus near the athletic field and the tennis courts. I actually noticed it a couple of years ago because I played quite a bit of tennis there during the summer and the windmill is close, pretty tall and hard to miss.

I also include for completeness the information about the wind turbine that is posted nearby. The photo is also somewhat of a self-portrait, blurred but unmistakeable.

There was tennis tonight outside. I went to the courts early for maintenance purposes. It rained yesterday and I was pretty sure that there would be puddles on the courts. And the leaves from the trees just outside the fence have been falling inside. I brought a barn broom and a rake. I ended up mostly using the broom and by the time we began play the court was dry and nearly leaf free, and I was well warmed up. We played three sets with various combinations of players: 6-4, 6-0, 6-1. Bill brought his "turkey trophy" to be presented to the guy who wins the fewest total games during the night. It's a way to rub a guy's nose into his failures on nights when he's not playing well, I guess. I was able to avoid carrying the trophy home with me, but it is meant to be a traveling trophy and thus will be back Wednesday. If I win it, I'll probably think of a way to turn it to ash.