Sunday, December 28, 2008

White Elephant and Pie Party

The Christmas themed white elephant and pie party took place tonight. We had a lot of pizza, a very good salad, some dessert pie, and tasty stuff to drink. I ate too much pizza and at the end there was plenty to send home with the Prairie Princess and her room mate. Four family size pizzas for 11 people is just too much pizza.

The white elephant part is always a lot of fun. We bring gag gifts, and sometimes ones that make us gag, and exchange them in a sort of random (but orderly) process. I usually end up with a Christmas salami or something like that. I almost was able to hang onto the Sarah Palin tee shirt, but Tula snatched it away at the last moment. I was hoping to wear it to my next tennis match. PP got a salad shooter (as seen on TV) and Gino grabbed the M&M dispenser that he is displaying in the photo. There was much merriment and witty talk. Eleven of the participants with their booty can be seen in the photo. I took the snapshot. Herb is in charge of my salami.

"Nothing says Christmas like a good piece of meat," Gino says.

And this piece of urban nonsense was spouted several times. What is it, and what does it mean? You'll have to check with the princess.
"I am a serious monster.
I have powers that you can't understand.
1-2-3-4-5! 6-7-8-9-10?"

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Holiday

Christmas day in Minnesota. We had a nice breakfast and played some games on the Wii. Tennis and bowling were fun, and no one got hurt. Then we opened some presents. The photo records the gang who was here and the fun they were having. I used the tripod and the timer on the camera, so it's the best of about three shots that we were willing to stand still for.

Merry Christmas to all.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Nasty Reminder of Mortality

I fell down while I was playing tennis today. It wasn't an easy fall, nor was it an easy shot that I was attempting when I lost my footing. We were playing doubles at Fort Snelling. Dennis hit a lob over my head about five or six shots into one of our longish rallies. He's a good lobber (lobster??), but I had a chance to hit an overhead smash. I backpedaled rapidly and then did one of those backward leaping overheads that Federer and his ilk do effortlessly. I struck the ball cleanly and saw it cross the net before I realized I was going down. I caught the heel of my shoe just enough to keep my feet from landing where my balance could be saved. I landed hard on my buttocks, taking my whole weight there and on my left hand and wrist. I felt my spine compress and pain sneaked into my consciousness. I stayed down on my backside while the point continued for two or three more exchanges between Bill, and Dennis and Gary across the net. Bill stayed with the point a while before we lost it. I was down on the court for four or five minutes as I assessed the damage and the pain. Most of the pain went away pretty fast - and the area that hurt first hurt less as time passed.

Now as I sit at home on my painful butt, the worst hurt is the wrist, followed by my left gluteus maximus. My spine has gone back to its former length, but still hurts, getting stiff and stiffer. I've used ice on the sore wrist.

I stopped playing after the the fall while I stood and tested the injured body parts while the other three guys played "cut throat" tennis - one against two. After about twenty minutes I opted back in to finish the set. We had been ahead 4-2, 30-40, but we lost the next four games when I returned to play. And we played five games of a second set before we had to give up the court. I played gingerly, but reasonably well, so I have hopes for a quick recovery. But I remain 66 years old, and I'm on the ibu train.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Still Winter

Every year Minnehaha Falls does this. It freezes up and icicles hang from rock. This is what this year's version looked like today after several days of below zero luxury in Minnesota.

Curling last night was a good game, but we lost on the last rock delivered. I was the deliverer and nearly did enough to get a point to break a fifth end tie. Alas, we went down by a point. Our season has not been very successful, but we have hopes for the new year.

But I played a little better tennis tonight and the result was a little better, too. We managed to finish two sets and a part of a third, before we were timed off the court and I was able to go to Yang's for my Thursday night lomein dinner. I brought it home and shared it with Herb, who had not yet eaten dinner at my arrival at 9 pm. Tasty.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Minus 11 on the way to minus 14

It's winter in Minnesota. PP and Herb are shown on their return from last night's frigid jaunt.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


The temperature has dipped to zero on its way to something below zero. Inside, PP, Herb and I put up the Christmas tree. We are ready for the holiday season. They, being young adults, went for a walk in the blizzard. I tried to get a photo of them in the swirling snow, but the flash caught snow flakes and they reflected the light back to the camera. Bad photos resulted. You'll have to use your imagination..

There was early afternoon geezer tennis that began at 2:30 pm and 27 degrees. By four when we quit playing the mercury (?) had slid to seven. The wind was blowing and the lights inside the Fort Snelling bubble, in rsponse to the wind, were swaying noticeably. I guess we are having our first blizzard of the season.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Marjorie McNeeley

It's December. Right? I've posted a couple of days of off white outdoors photos and it's time to brighten up. The Como Conservatory is having it's Poinsettia Show and it is very colorful, mainly red and pink. It's a good place to visit to lift those sagging spirits and remember what summer will bring again in about six months - an environment wherein green plants can thrive.

The sculpture "Crest of the Wave" is located in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory Palm Dome at Como. The artist, Harriet W. Frishmuth, made this bronze sculpture in 1925. It still looks pretty good, although not many people have heard of Harriet Frishmuth. Behind it is a horse from the Cafesjian's Carousel which is also located at the park. And flowers and red leaves.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tennis Bubbles

I spent a couple of hours at Fort Snelling Tennis Center, pictured below. The twin bubbles cover eight tennis courts that are quite heavily used this time of year. I don't know who invented the bubbles back in the 1960's (I think), but they were one of the innovations that made tennis in Minnesota in the winter a possibility. I understand that they are kept up mainly through judicious use of air pressure. The bubbles rise high enough in the middle to allow a reasonable altitude to lobs and makes the game pretty interesting for the geezers among us who like to throw up a high one once in a while. There was quite a bit of that today. The bubbles come down in the spring and the club becomes an outdoor tennis center, with wind and sun problems and all that outdoor tennis entails. In the winter months the temperature in the bubbles can get a little chilly, but wind chill inside, at least, is not a problem. The heating system seems adequate for most Minnesota days.

I substituted for Ex-prof Bill today in a good group of tennis ball strikers - Gary, Dennis, and Bill filled out the day's roster. We played two competitive sets, changing partners between sets, 3-6. 7-5.

I came home for a late lunch and a short nap.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Freshly Shoveled

It is indeed winter. The temperature was in single digits most of the morning and then it snowed. We reached a balmy 20 degrees by this evening. I shoveled the walks before tennis and shot a photo for the blog. It's gray and cold, but the walk was clear for a while.

I played my first USTA match in a while tonight at Wooddale. It was Jerry's 8.0 mixed team against a team based at the University of Minnesota courts. We managed to win two of the three matches for a team victory. I played with Marsha and we eked out a 6-4, 1-6, 1-0 (7) win. I think that leaves us in second place in the league. To celebrate and to alleviate our hunger, Jerry and I went to Ronnally's Pizza in Woodbury, next to Yang's and shared a sausage and mushroom pie. I rate the pizza a four star (****) pie.

PP and Herb are on their way back from their road trip to Chicago. PP took the Japanese proficiency test at the Japanese government offices there. They called from the road, near Madison, to let me know they were on their way home, and to check on the whereabouts of their tousan.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Winter sets in

I guess winter has come to stay for a while. I have been battling a cold for about a week and it seems to have subsided enough so that I can comfortably play tennis four or five times a week again, but full strength is still a day or two off. The temperature dipped into single figures today. Yesterday was a little warmer and I went in search of flowers. The Como Conservatory is always an option, but they were changing the flowers in the main display area - the sunken garden - and it was closed. There were a few blooms in the tropical plant area - see below - among the spice trees and fruit trees far from their native soil. It was enough to help my downtrodden spirits. Voila, a purple flower.

I have shoveled snow once, but the weather creatures seem to think that I should do it again tomorrow. Herb and PP are off to Chicago for the weekend, where PP is taking a Japanese language test. It's at the Japanese government offices in Obama's home town. Herb will be visiting the Shinnyo-en temple and doing a lot of driving in the snow. I'm playing tennis at Wooddale twice this weekend. Saturday with Jerry's group and then Sunday evening is a USTA mixed doubles match.

Tennis statistics for November: I played on 17 different days, a total of 36 full sets and 11 partial sets, a total of 382 games, 216 won and 166 lost. An average day was 22.4 games. No serious injuries.

And the economy continues to crumble. The Minnesota state budget is 5.2 billion bucks short of balance. A pittance actually compared to what the big three auto makers are asking for from Congress - I've heard 35 billion green backs needed to keep them alive a while. I wonder when I get bailed out.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


It's Thanksgiving tomorrow and we still have no accumulation of snow. It has been pretty cold, mostly below freezing for the last couple of weeks. It feels like Thanksgiving. The sky was very blue today, an almost startling blue, the blue that goes with a cold fall day. The trees in the photo are big cottonwood trees at Linwood Park, that stand naked without their leaves. They make an interesting pattern against the blue.

We - the Moohoo rink - had curling tonight, but we had a bad night against a good team and, as a result, were able to go home early. I'm baking a pumpkin pie tomorrow for Thanksgiving at the Moohoos. The princess who occasionally lives here (PWOLH??) will be doing her pie crust from scratch, that she learned to make while in Japan, and sweet potato pie. We'll be well set for dessert after the turkey feast that precedes it.

I am again this year thankful for my kids and my extended family here and in the other parts of this country. I am thankful to be healthy and retired. And I'm thankful to be living in a great state in a great nation. There are lots of things to be thankful for.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tennis Stuff

If you're going to call it a tennis blog, it should occasionally have a picture of equipment related to the game. I'm still playing with the same Wilson Prostaff racket that I was playing with in 2000. It's a good racket, and it has been restrung several times. I have in that span of time bought two brand new rackets with the idea of using them as my new main weapon, but in both cases found that I was unable to play as well with the new racket and thus reverted to the old Wilson. The shoes are much newer than the racket, but the balls are only a week or so from the store shelf.

Thanksgiving is three days away and I've been thinking about how much cinnamon should go into the pumpkin pie that I plan to bake. I usually double the amount called for in the recipe, but I'm contemplating kicking it up a little more to triple strength. I'm wondering what quantities of cinnamon other people have used in their pumpkin pies. I'd like to know. Then I'll go for the record.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Scent of Pumpkins

Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away and I'm beginning to catch the aroma of a pie party.

The Prairie Princess was home for the weekend. She had laundry and video gaming to do. She's back in Minneapolis now with her clean clothes and a good attitude.

Herb, PP, and I were chatting about the new president's cabinet and his penchant for naming his rivals to the cabinet, much like Abe Lincoln did in 1860 when the U.S. was facing a Civil War. Obama has chosen Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson, both former rivals for the Democratic nomination, to serve in his cabinet. I wondered aloud what has become of John McCain and where he might fit into the new cabinet. Herb suggested that he could serve as Secretary of "The Guy I Beat". To loud guffaws.

More tennis today for me, and good tennis it was. We four geezers played nearly three sets at Fort Snelling, beginning just as the Viking game was concluding. It was my 14th day of tennis in November, during which I have completed 31 complete sets and several partials. There may be a rendering of statistics when the month finally concludes. I'm ready for some time off.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A and Za

Friday night is often pizza night at the House of Tousan. This beauty is from Pappa Murphy's and is Herb's vegetarian blend - artie's chokes, black olives and mushies. When it gets here we add the carrots and a suitable mixture of spices - garlic, oregano, black and red pepper, et. al. We were joined in the feast by the Prairie Princess, who came home to use the clothes washing facilities and exercise the Wii, among other things.

I managed to get in almost two hours of tennis this afternoon with the hard core retirees. The only guy not retired labors in the financial sector of the economy and was happy to be away from work as the world economy continues its slide into some sort of swamp. It was good tennis and I was playing well, even visiting the elusive "zone" for short periods of time. A pretty good day in spite of the lack of outdoor heat causing the thermometers to register below freezing data all the live long day.

The recount of the vote for U.S. Senator from Minnesota goes on. It's a pretty good spectator sport for this time of year. My neighborhood guy, Norm Coleman, still holds a tenuous lead - slightly ahead of Al Franken, Dean Barkley and the Lizard People.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

14 degrees

It's 14 degrees outside as I key-in these words. To counter balance the weight of impending winter and the stock market meltdown (again today!), I'm posting this photo taken in June, 2007, at the Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis. It has been a tradition to go there on Father's Day and this was taken then. The building framed by the sculpture is the IDS Building, one of the tallest, if not the tallest of the Twin Cities structures.

I spent a few minutes outside today and can affirm that it was a cold, windy, chilly day. There was also a chance to play tennis again, but it was inside and there was no wind, so I wore shorts.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hard Water

The time of ice has arrived. This pond has a layer of frozen water covering the other water below. The air was brisk and bracing, and winter seems to be in the air.

Wednesday night is the night when we curl (on ice) at SPCC. We had the full complement of curlers and came very close to a win. It came down to the last rock. We had the hammer, down by one, and we barely missed a shot that would have sent us into extra time. It was an enjoyable game with some very good shots and a lot of hard, productive sweeping. Our fan, the Prairie Princess, came to watch her roomie, her uncle, and her tousan [and Burt] compete.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Birthday Greetings

T.J. is Totally Jammin' and is 10 years old today. Happy Birthday, young fellow.

This photo was taken almost a month ago when PP and I were visiting Santini and family in Michigan. T.J was only nine then, but he was having a good time at Tunnel Park. I'm not sure what he has in his hand - some sort of magic weapon, I presume.

Monday, November 17, 2008

St Paul Sunset

It's Monday and it was cold enough to discourage my planned continuation of leaf gathering. Unky Herb and I raked the backyard yesterday and I thought I'd do the front yard today. The sun was out, but the temperature came with a wind chill, but I gave it a try. There is still a half yard to do, the half under the pin oak, which stubbornly refuses to give up its old leaves.

At about 4:30, I trekked to Linwood to see if the sun sets in Minnesota in that attractive way that it does in Michigan. As you can see, there is a qualitative difference between summer and late fall sunsets, but they both have some allure. The sun is much further south now at time of setting than it is in June, and that allows the event to be seen in the southwest sky visible from the high hill at Linwood.

Another fact about bacteria, from "Discover"::
"4. Bacteria have been around for at least 3.5 billion years, making them the oldest known life-form on the planet."

It makes me want to ask, "how many is a Brazilian?"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Right Arm and Herb

Herb and the Princess were home to partake of vittles. My right arm was a factor in today's tennis action at Fort Snelling. Scores at eleven.

From "Discover" magazine: "20 Things you didn't know about bacteria."

"9. No escaping them: Your body has 10 times more bacteria cells than human cells."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Very Old Photos

I could have taken photos today. The sun was out for most of the day and I spent a couple of hours with Unky Herb raking and bagging leaves. The sun was low in the sky by the time we finished delivering the leaves to the leaf recycling center, but my camera was in the house and we needed to make a stop at the bread store to top up the larder. I also could have snapped a photo or two ar Wooddale before or after engaging in tennis competition. I did neither.

Instead, I offer old photos from my stock of classics. On exhibit today are G.L. Miller (1848-1920) - my great grandfather - and his wife and my great grandmother, Nancy Jane McDill Miller (1847-1926). Between the two of them they account for about a quarter of my DNA (and that of a number of readers of the blog). G.L. was an attorney, a politician, a newspaper owner-editor and a gentleman farmer in Wisconsin. He led what seems to be a very interesting life. Much of his editorial writing exists on newspaper archives at various Historical Society sites at Wisconsin colleges.

Nancy Jane married G.L in DeSoto, Wisconsin, on January 17, 1875. A little over seven months later my grandfather, G.E Miller, was born (undoubtedly prematurely) in DeSoto, followed by Charles and Mayme some years later. One of Nancy's brothers, George Davis McDill, was a captain of the Wisconsin Volunteers in the Civil War and a Wisconsin State legislator. When he died in1899, two of his children (Ruth and Ella) came to live with G.L. Nancy and family.

I think that G.L bears a striking resemblance to one of his great grandsons.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Old Days

It was a dark and sometimes rainy day in the Saintly City. I resorted to rummaging around in my cache of old, obscure photos that haven't seen the light of day in years. The first is of Gino's youth football team from about 1972 or so. He was co-head coach as I recall, and I spent some small time helping out and watching the games with my various cameras in hand. This is a team photo after a successful season, perhaps even a championship season. I can only name the "adults" in the photo, but I suspect that Mr Moohoo knows the names of the players and perhaps an anecdote about a few of them.

This next photo was taken in August of 1969 in my nearly unfurnished apartment near Lake Owasso. Santini is familiar with the youngsters in the photo and has been married to the guy in the foreground forever. I am standing in the background surrounded by some of my possessions at the time. I think I still have the bricks that were part of the bookcase - and the stereo. I don't know where the golf club came from.

I did manage to play my usual Thursday night mixed doubles with the hard core girls and Jerry at Wooddale tonight. And on the way home I stopped at Yang's Chinese Food Emporium to get some fried tofu lomein. And when I got home I was able to share the largess with Herb and the Prairie Princess. All in all, not a bad day.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Curling Night in St Paul

As you can see from the Curling Club schedule board below, we curled on sheet seven at 9 pm and got a handicap of one - so we started ahead 1-0. We had a full team, and Wireless brought along her roommate, the Prairie Princess to watch the action. We had a good night and notched our first victory 7-4. Mr Moohoo, our skipper, was in the zone and made some quite nice shots to get us ahead 7-0 after four ends. In this league, a lot of shots depend on your Plan B - which usually means you've got Lady Luck on your side.

PP took the GRE today, so she won't be nervous about that any more. She says that she's landed a part time job, too, so life is getting a little more structure.

It was a dreary November day that started out with snow on the ground and finished with puddles everywhere. It was a good day to do some curling.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thirty-seven Years ago

It's Veteran's Day and there have been some postings from the distant past. In 1971 I was living in Houston, Texas, and working for Unisys at NASA. As I recall, Gino was getting out of the army (although it may have been a furlough) and he was on his way back to civilian life. He stopped and spent a few days with me and this is one of just a couple of photos that I still have from that time - 37 years ago. Incidentally the art work hanging on my apartment wall was a gift from a long ago girl friend and it has been lost to history. After his time in Texas, Gino went on to visit Santini (before she was Santini) probably in Fort Wayne, Indiana and then to St Paul.
Several gallons of water have passed over the dam since then.

It continues to look like late fall in the land of 10,000 lakes. Norm Coleman holds a 206 vote lead on Al Franken in the contest to be known as "Landslide Norm" or "Landslide Al" and to be Minnesota's U.S Senator for the next six years (barring jail sentences).

Monday, November 10, 2008

Native Grass

It still feels like November. The day was cold, but the native grass in the backyard was already dormant, waiting for the cold months. PP was home to visit and play some Legend of Zelda. When Herb got home we made some pancakes for dinner and later watched the Daily Show. Not much happening as we try to get acclimated to the change of seasons.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Solid Form of Water Prevails

It was a cold day in the northland. There is not much to photograph, even if one were to look exhaustively. I, like others, dredged up a pretty good photo from 2007. I spent some time at Fort Snelling playing tennis this afternoon, and missed the local football team's efforts in the professional football league. It was my fourth consecutive day of tennis ball smacking during which I played nine complete sets of tennis and two partials. It's time for a day off. I was outside briefly and was convinced that the winter season is soon to be upon us. Ice has returned.

Friday, November 7, 2008

First Snow

The first snow of the year fell overnight. It wasn't much, but when I went out to fetch the morning Strib, I found a squirrel digging in my yard amongst the leaves and snow. So I took his photo. The snow has pretty much gone, but the squirrel is still out there somewhere.

My eight thirty tennis match went off as scheduled. It was early but the older gentlemen that I compete with were all there and ready to play. On one of the adjoining courts there were four octogenarians flogging the tennis balls and having fun. They all seemed to be nursing ailing joints, but it was,all in all, a beautiful sight. I should have brought my camera. Our match went 90 minutes and nearly three sets before running out of time - and I was nearly out of steam. 6-4, 6-2, 0-5 (out of time).

"Squirrels are vermin."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Obama Made Oprah Cry

This photo is of the spot where I'll be smacking tennis balls tomorrow morning at 8:30. Only retired guys are there normally on Friday morning. This is the Fred Wells Tennis Center at Fort Snelling. It is covered with a bubble for about six months of the year and is open to the weather in the summer.

I played some mixed dubbs with the hardcore girls and Jerry this evening. Thursday night tennis takes place at Wooddale. The tennis was pretty good tonight. My partner was Becky. We are seldom partners, because she has an established partnership with Jerry, but sometimes they like to mix it up a little. The scores, 6-1, 6-7, 6-3, indicate a close and entertaining match, which it was. After the match I drove to Yangs to get some lomein. I convinced them to use fried tofu rather than the usual chicken. They happily obliged, because I'm a Thursday night regular. Incidentally, they don't have anything with mock duck on the menu. Jerry says that it is possible to buy mock duck in cans at the grocery store in the veggie area near the green beans. Is that really true? I have not yet seen canned mock duck at Cub. Or Kowalski's.

There was curling last night and it went reasonably well. Mr Moohoo was under the weather and stayed home so we played with three players. The team we played was way too good for the Metro league, but we got a handicap of two points and managed to go up 3-2 after two ends before they got ahead for good. We had some nice shots, but the skip (me) missed a couple of crucial shots at the wrong time and we lost big time (about 10-4). I did score on the last rock of the night, while the house was unoccupied, with a draw to the button. [Love that nomenclature].

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election 2008

The place that I voted this morning was not crowded. I was in line behind one guy, Herb, and waited about ten seconds for a private booth before gaining access to one. Not bad for a day when the state authorities predict at least an 80% turnout. They also suggested that Minnesota will lead the nation, again, in voter turnout.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Falls, No Water

The water has stopped flowing over Minnehaha Falls. It's been dry, but I think the city may have turned off the water so that they can work on repairing the creek bed downstream. I'm guessing. It's an odd sight to see the precipice and no water streaming over it. Notice the dry stream bed in the foreground.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Wii Man

Today's photo features Herb playing "Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess" on the Wii. I guess he's about 40 hours into it and there is much more to go. PP has about 25 hours on the same game.

It was a nice day today, especially for November. Daylight Saving Time went away overnight so everyone had an extra hour of slumber. On the down side, darkness came early tonight.

There was Sunday tennis at Fort Snelling. It was pretty good tennis, but we quit early because I banged my toe into one of the building's tennis bubble supports and I stopped the action to take off my shoe and have a look at my foot. I guess everyone was tired of playing because there was immediate and universal agreement to stop for the day. My injury was decidedly superficial, but I was happy enough to quit, just ten minutes before our time was to expire. We left the court and sat around a while to chat about the financial meltdown and the complicated financial times we apparently live in. 6-3, 6-3, 2-2 (retired).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Theme: Books

Once in a while I participate in theme day. I see that the theme for November first is books, and since I have a few books and a camera, it seemed easy to get in the game. The two bookcases below are on either side of my fireplace and contain much more than just books. There are photos, figurines and other miscellaneous articles (including some dust of long standing.)

In this photo one may find the prize for chuck-a-puck that PP brought home from the Lady Gopher hockey game. It may be valuable one day. Where's Waldo?

Three sets of tennis today - this time at Wooddale. I may try to keep a log of the number of games and sets that I play this month - just for giggles. 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 (with Jerry, Pat, and Bob). My knee problems appear to be abating, although I have been treating myself with ibu, and using a knee support.

PP has been around this weekend. We had to replace her Suburu's tires yesterday, because the tread was beginning to separate from the body of the tire. We had excellent service from Andy at All American Auto. Andy is Herb's childhood friend well known as Mr. Excitement.

Will I blog every day this month? Who knows? I have today, at least.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Curling again

Yesterday was a really nice fall day, although tomorrow promises one of those OOTND in THOD days. I took a jaunt over to Fort Snelling State Park to look for wildlife and to test my stamina a little. The Mendota Bridge was looking impressive so I snapped off a photo as I walked beneath it. It's a giant bridge. And it was a nice long trek in the great out of doors.

As I walked along the Minnesota River I encountered wildlife. Two deer were munching on some succulent leaves. This one, the buck, pretty much ignored my presence. I guess it's not yet deer season or they would have been skittish. I don't think that they have a deer season in the park, if my memory serves.

There was curling tonight at SPCC. The three of us - Curt was sick - forced a team of four young guys to extra ends. Gino had executed a last rock draw to the house to get us to overtime. The young guys beat us on a fortunate shot on the last stone and we went home. The victors (them) sweep the ice after the game, so it was a nearly perfect end to a fun game. It was a nice job from Gino and Wireless to keep us in the game.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Last Photo from Holland

Santini has declared summer in Michigan to be done, finished, completed. This is the last photo that I took in the land of Wolverines. It's the young'uns doing the boogie on the beach and having a whale of a time. The Princess was a pretty good catalyst for fooling around.

I was able to play some tennis yesterday with the old guys. They have not lost their tenacity and their reluctance to lose a set. Tennis Dennis, with his new hip and a steady partner beat my partner and me 7-6 in about an hour and fifteen minutes. It was a nice way to be welcomed back.

A quote from rom the Strib:
"I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization." Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

A story about monkeys:
Once upon a time in a village, a man appeared and announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $5 each. The villagers seeing that there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them.
The man bought thousands at $5 and as supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their effort.
He further announced that he would now buy at $10. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again. Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms.
The offer increased to $15 each and the supply of monkeys became so little that it was an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch it.
The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50. However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now buy on his behalf.
In the man’s absence, the assistant told the villagers “Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $45 and when the man returns from the city, you can sell them to him for $50 each.”
The villagers rounded up with all their savings and bought all the monkeys. Then they never again saw the man nor his assistant, only monkeys everywhere!
And THAT ladies and gentleman is how the stock market works…

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Some fun

It was a rainy day yesterday, but it finally stopped and we took a journey to Tunnel Park again. First a photo of a mom and her daughter looking to be having a good time. We were at the top of the dune and most of the area was deserted. The rest of the journeyers were in the background somewhere, but they are pictured below.

After we took photos we went to the store and bought food to fix. Santini and I figured out how to make sweet potato pie, and the Prairie Princess contibuted pie crust. It was my first shot at this delicacy and it was sublime. I plan to repeat this particular endeavor.
Time flashes by when you are having a good time. The weather guys promise reasonable weather, so we're going to continue with the fun.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tunnel Park

The train trip to Lower Michigan was pretty smooth. We arrived on time and only slightly over budget. We were met at the station in Holland by the SLOs, OSLO and Santini. At dusk tonight we learned that sunsets on the fresh water ocean have moved south. But they are still stikingly beautiful. The predominant color today was orange, as opposed to a more rddish pink in August. The princess added scale and a certain something to the photo.

The winner of Friday's Chuck-a-puck (above) went with us to Hemlock Park today as we attempted to find a prairie setting to her liking. We managed to find big and little blue stem grasses as well as a raft of tree species in the forest nearby - oaks, maples, beeches, white and red pines, and all lending some color to a beautiful autumn afternoon.

We also had a trek to Tunnel Park just north of here on the beach. I had a run down the dune and so did the youngsters in attendance, PP, TJ, and Nikki.. I took a picture by the tunnel to prove that we were actually there. Unlike our August visits to this park, we were very nearly alone. But then, who goes to the beach in October in Michigan?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The maple tree is climbable

The maple tree in the backyard is big enough to be climbed. This is the same tree as seen on my previous blog entry. The monkey like character in the tree is the Prairie Princess, who has finished her job in Glyndon and returned to the big city. She was taking a break from examining her plantings in the prairie garden in the backyard. Last night she moved into her new apartment with Wireless across the river in near Lake Harriet.

I played three sets of tennis tonight at Wooddale with Jerry and the hardcore girls. On the way home I stopped at Yang's to get chicken lomein. I didn't have to order. The woman behind the counter wrote down my name and the food I always order and told me it would be ready in five minutes. And it was. I'm still a regular on Thursday nights.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Sixty Six

My backyard maple tree is getting colorful. I snapped this photo during breakfast as the sun was starting to reach its upper leaves. In other news. the ash trees are again giving up their yellowed leaves without much struggle. They are the quitters of the tree world.

I managed to get in another three sets of pretty good tennis early this afternoon at Fort Snelling. The courts at that time of day on Tuesday are mainly populated by the geezer set, of which I am a member. I was subbing for a guy who still works, but the tennis was good - lots of long points and tactical shots - and no one got hurt. The Fort Snelling facility is a good place to play. It's a bubble and thus subject to lack of warmth in the really cold months, but the courts are good, wide and well maintained. They also have a very visible youth program with a lot of ten to 13 year-olds, many of them minorities, coming in the afternoon to learn the sport.

The Prairie Princess is home from Glyndon and is interviewing for another Nature Conservancy job tomorrow. She. Herb and I went to Pad Thai to celebrate her return and the passage of another Tousan year. That's some good eatin'.

In biking news. Lance Armstrong agreed to ride in next year's Giro d'Italia and suggested that that the Italian race will be the main target of his comeback year. Not the Tour de France?? "Say it ain't so, Joe."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Suited to party

Here's something you won't see very often - Herb in full regalia. He dressed up for a party and I had to record his finery for posterity. You can see his high school graduation picture in the background and several other photos of him and the princess from other times.

It was a very nice day. One of the nicest days in the history of days [credit to Mr Moohoo for the phrase]. I played inside tennis at Wooddale with some of the geezers. It was my third day in a row and the quality of my play was down a little, but my minor maladies didn't flare up much. We managed to fit three sets into about 90 minutes. It seems a shame to play inside on a day like this, but in October almost any weather can arrive on any given day, and often without much warning. I managed to spend a little time outside - surveying the mass of green tomatoes that still hang off the tomato plants just outside my back door. I've noticed that the squirrels have finally discovered the low hanging fruit and are taking advantage of the availability of food to get ready for the coming [shudder] winter. They are leaving plenty for my autumn feast of fried green tomatoes.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ten ten

I stop at Yang's Chinese food emporium nearly every Thursday night after playing mixed doubles at Wooddale. I almost always get their tasty chicken lomein. I have become something of a regular and they now know my order before I order it. The last time I was there I noticed an item in the St Paul fish wrap that seemed to indicate that the sculpture at Phalen Park, that I previously posted as one of the Minnesota Rocks, had been somehow damaged. I suspected vandalism and resolved to check it out during the daylight hours. I went there to see it and, as the photo shows, the sculpture seems to be doing quite well. But it gave me an excuse to walk along the lake and check out the park land and the state of the changing leaves.

The maples are beginning to get serious about changing colors. It has been cold enough to discourage the production of the green chlorophyll and only the sugars remain in the leaves. It hasn't actually frozen here yet, but it has been cold enough to get me to turn on the heat plant in the basement.

The stock market roils and 401k's are halved as this October passes. There is an election in a few weeks and the TV channels have been purchased by politicos to try to slime their opponents. And the Prairie Princess will be coming back to the Cities next week from her job in Glyndon. It's October.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Mini Minnehaha

The autumn is getting here. I took another look at the Falls of Minnehaha yesterday and found it a trifle inadequate. The water level is the lowest that I have seen in a while, and the leaves in the vicinity of the park are not yet ready to change. I suspect that we need a freeze before the chlorophyll gives up and lets the bright yellows and reds in the leaves take over. It should be soon. October approaches.

What grasses are these? They are planted in Longfellow Gardens at the park. I don't think that they are a native species, but I'll have to wait for the Prairie Princess to weigh in.

Indoor tennis has begun. I have played doubles inside four times this week already, and the weather has actually been good enough to be outside. But we signed up for permanent time and the times began last week. That means we have to pay for it if we use it or not. There is no wind inside. I am not against that. I'm splitting my allegiances between Wooddale and Fort Snelling tennis emporiums.

Herb is off to Chicago for the weekend and PP is in Glyndon. I am left to watch out for the Twins, the Vikings, and the banking debacle. It's a lot of responsibility, but I'm up to the task.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mixed Doubles

It's the end of the USTA tennis season. Hence tournaments. My 8.0 mixed doubles team played in the sectional tournament at Reed-Sweatt (R-S) Tennis Center today. I played a match at 2 pm with my partner - one of the hard core girls. I usually don't play very well at R-S, but we were already out of contention for the trip to the nationals, so most of the pressure was off. I have been having some knee problems and tried to baby the joint as best I could, yet trying to be competitive. We scraped out the first set 6-4, but lost the second 6-2. The match is then decided by a 10 point tie-breaker (first one to ten and ahead by 2). At 8-5 against us, my sore knee acted up and I was temporarily unable to put weight on it. I think I have a bone chip or calcium deposit that moves around, because after walking around for a few minutes the knee reurned to near normal. We played on, but lost 10-7. Another fine example of GOINFS, but I was glad that I played - there were a lot of very competitive, if not artistic points and I enjoyed the chance to beat some other pretty good players much my junior.

The Prairie Princess is home for the weekend. She's been off visiting friends and socializing. We have had several opportunities to chat and catch up on her Glyndon orchid activities. It's nice to have her around.

Unky Herb has a new toy. He bought a new bike - I think at Erik's. It's a Specialized and seems pretty nice. He went for a ride on it today and pronounced it better than the previous one, which had been stolen out of the garage a couple of weeks ago.

Today's picture is a soccer practice I encountered at Linwood Park. The season of kids kicking the round ball is upon us. It reminds me of the years I spent coaching and following Herb's teams to various soccer fields in the area.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lily Pads

I took a hike around the big park by Como Lake. The weather was good and the lily pads at Como Park are really big. They plant a nice variety of them in the pools in front of the zoo entrance. They are mostly native to somewhere much more tropical than St Paul. The lily pads are in pots under the surface of the water, so they can be moved when the wintry weather moves in.

The lilies have some nice flowers emerging from the depths of the pools.

I had a Super Seniors USTA tennis match tonight at Interlachen Country Club. It's a great venue for tennis. We played three doubles matches on clay. Our team hasn't been winning many matches and tonight was no exception. Of course, being the visiting team, we weren't used to the courts, but we had three out of three close matches. My own match ended in a loss, 7-6, 7-5, a few minutes after the sun went down. There was still light, but it was getting marginal. It was the last team match of the season and I'm not sad to see the season end. The teams in the league are located all over the metro area and I had to drive through Minneapolis on I-94 during rush hour to get to the match site.

The new 35W bridge over the Mississippi River opens tomorrow morning. It replaces the one that collapsed on August 1, 2007, that resulted in 13 deaths. The Minnesota Dept of Transportation says that this one is very safe.