Monday, March 31, 2008

Six Inches of Spring

Spring suffered a relapse today, and it may continue into tomorrow. It's not going to melt until probably Thursday. If this were December, I'd be outside shoveling, but the message for March snow to Mother Nature is, "You put it there, you shovel it."

The bushes in the back yard show the snow at about 5 pm. By 10 the depth had reached six inches.

I had tennis scheduled and I had to make up for a pitiful result in last night's USTA match, so I drove to Wooddale and played some tennis. The results were better. On the way over to the club, I observed a single vehicle that had lost traction and slid into the ditch. A tow truck was Johnny on the spot. The trip back was more harrowing, because the temperature had dropped and there were patches of ice forming on the pavement. One more vehicle, but one only in the ditch on the way home.

The target date for the return of Kagami Sensei to Minnesota is April 19, this according to an email that she sent to Unky Herb today. Details to follow.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Four Sets

It was a record day with the Gang of Geezers. We played and completed four sets in just over 90 minutes. It was not epic nor pretty. The points and games went fast for the most part. It was exercise and a chance to play the game we all love, but as sometimes the case, the scores were lopsided. Curt was in town from his winter place in Arkansas, and was a sub for Jerry. Curt drove the 800 miles to see a concert in the Saintly City and to visit his grandkids. He says that the trip cost him $398 for gas. He's driving a Toyota SUV that gets 19 miles per gallon at 80 miles an hour. It was good to see him and I congratulate him on his endurance.

Unky Herb is shown below with the very parka that he dons to ride his bike in March. I think it's the same stocking cap, too. We were on our way to the vegetarian restaurant on Grand for dinner when this occasion was recorded. There is a significant snow bank by the front door in a spot unkissed by the sun. I have used the word "unkissed" twice in two successive blogs and the spell checker continues to say that the word does not exist. I disagree.

We are still waiting for a week of 50 degree weather.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Not Really Spring Yet

I have no new photos today. The landscape is in in-between mode, where it can't seem to decide to be spring or revert to winter. There are piles of snow in places unkissed by the sun. Some of them are still a couple of feet tall. There is bare ground and the items lost in the winter months are starting to reappear. I saw several lost mittens as walked around the neighborhood. Lots of young tykes apparently went without pie at some point this winter.

I have email today from Kagami Sensei from Singapore on her way to Chennai, India. She should be in Auroville, India, now, and will be planting trees in the next few days. Her diet is expected to be completely vegan. She seems to continue moving further and further west, but has promised to be home in about three weeks, with plans to stay for a while.

Thursday night tennis was competitive again. We lost the first set, but won the second. Jerry is still not playing because of his impending medical treatments, but we talked about him and his toughness. He will be out for at least another month, I think. By that time we'll be playing outside again.

There will be geezer tennis tomorrow morning, and then a USTA mixed doubles match on Sunday night. And then Monday doubles and Tuesday curling playdowns. I think that I may be playing a little too much. I'm wearing down a bit, so I'll need to take a day off soon.

Unky Herb went out for a bike ride tonight again. He wore his parka and a helmet over his stocking cap, and remained toasty warm.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Bleu Fleurs for Easter

Happy Easter. The earliest Easter in about 95 years.

A Poem

Spring has sprung,
The grass has riz,
I wonder where my lawnmower are.

It snowed some more over night. See previous day's blog's photos.

Friday, March 21, 2008

So This Is Spring in Minnesota

Unless I miscounted, this is the second day of spring. Meteorological spring has been with us for 20 days. So that white stuff that is spread all over the ground like white frosting on a red devil's food cake, must be white frosting. So I took some pictures of it. Notice the tasty looking lumps of goodness.

Here, you notice that the frosting has been elaborately smeared on my backyard fence in a fetching way.

I took a day off from tennis ball bashing. There was some sort of basketball tournament on CBS, so I watched that for a while, and when I grew tired of free throws and TV timeouts, I did a crossword puzzle. Then, of course, I had a trip to the great outdoors to take the photos of the outside whiteness, whatever it is. Tomorrow I'll be back to the tennis courts in Woodbury.

Do you know what they call a quarter pounder with cheese in France?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Equinox, My Friend

I saw this car on Grand Avenue at noon after lunch at the Italian Pie Shoppe. It's an art car. There really is no good reason why we shouldn't have more of these driving around on the streets of America.

Today is the first day of spring. The vernal equinox came through earlier today. It's hard to take a picture of the equinox as I proved back in September on the autumnal equinox, but I welcome the return to longer days and nicer weather. Of course, we will have to get through the snow storm that is expected to descend on us overnight. But spring has sprung.

I played some tennis again tonight. I haven't played six straight days of tennis since I was on the Hamline tennis team in 1965, but the last six days have been tennis days. It wore me down and ate me up. The hardcore girls were `part of the action again at Wooddale. The scores were 7-6, 7-5 for Barb and me. Lucky for me, Barb played well and I kept the ball in play when I could. Tomorrow is a rest day. Probably, it is also a snow shoveling day.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tennis for Five Days Running

Sometimes a guy just doesn't have any new photos, but wants to add to his pile of blogs and send some guff into the public consciousness that is the internet.

I have since shaved the beard off, deciding that spring is indeed here and that the beard's itch was more than I could stand any more. The temperature has stayed above freezing for at least 40 consecutive hours, and, of course, today reached a very pleasant 45 degrees nearby on Grand Avenue.

So, today was my fifth straight day of competitive tennis and it's starting to wear on me. It has reduced my energy level to a point where I have been neglecting my blog and my photographic adventures. I took the camera out today to find something worthy to photograph, saw mainly puddles and melting snow, and thus came home empty.

The last two tennis events will be enough for tonight, I suspect. I played a USTA Super Seniors (over 60's) match at the Fort Snelling Tennis facility last night at 8:30. Incidentally, 8:30 is an ungodly hour to be playing competitive tennis. The Super Senior league has only two teams in the Twin Cities for the winter season, so we are playing the same team five times (or until one team wins three). The other team has a load of very good players. One of the guys on the doubles team that I faced last night is ranked number one in his age group (over 60) in the Northern Section of the USTA. They have a couple of other guys in the same category. My partner, Bob, and I lost 6-4, 6-3, but I think that if I had had a little sense and had rested a day between matches, we may have done better. In any case, we also lost the other two matches in the team competition, and now have lost twice to this team. We play them again next week - on Tuesday.

Tonight I played with the usual gang of hardcore guys at Wooddale. We had 90 minutes to determine a winner, but failed to get through the second set before the next group took over the court. The scores 5-7, 6-5. We were headed for a tiebreaker. Again, I think that if my stamina level was up to snuff, we may have won both sets. Who knows? But we had long competitive points followed by panting and friendly comments. It is, indeed a group of very nice gentlemen, all of whom are thankful to be mobile and upright at the end of the evening. This group often includes Jerry, who begins his chemotherapy and radiation treatments in another week or so. We miss his blazing, swinging forehand volleys. We expect him back in June or so.

The state is looking like spring will be here soon, but the weather talking heads have predicted one more snowstorm (at least) which is due in town for tomorrow's rush hour. They say. I'll be playing Mixed doubles tomorrow at Wooddale.

My biking season doesn't start until the snow is gone and the pavement is dry. It must be warm, too. I have heard that the real hardcore bikers have begun their 2008 campaign in earnest. So it goes.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Old Albert's Birthday

It's Friday and Pi Day. Also, it is Albert Einstein's 129th birthday. He was born March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Germany. It is useful to know where he was born because it often crops up in crossword puzzles when the author needs a three letter word. The weather in St Paul has taken a turn for the better. Spring is beginning to spring. Our first day in the fifties came yesterday. I went to see what Minnehaha Falls was up to. The ice is melting and it is no longer possible to walk on the ice of the creek. This is indeed progress. I had to walk through puddles and running water to get this photo, As you might expect, there were many people there to join me in surveying the falling, laughing waters.

I have been stuck in a marathon of tennis matches. Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday were all active matches, with a day off on Wednesday for two games of curling at the curling club.

The curling games were fun and competitive. The first game was with Harold, Harry, Gino and me. We jumped off to a 6-1 lead, before giving up the lead on the sixth of seven ends. We had a chance to tie on the last end, but our best stone was a couple of millimeters farther from the button then our foes, so we lost. Harry and Harold are the old guys on the team. They are long time veterans of the sport, but they have lost some of their edge towards the end of games. It's odd to be one of the young guys on any sort of team these days. It was the last game of the season for that team.

The Miller Rink won the 9 pm game. We played well, and we had the curling gods smiling on us. Gino made a good shot in the fifth end to take out two opposing points and gaining us one - a three point shot that stood up. Kurt and Wireless had good shots in the final end and the skip didn't need to throw his stones, We ended the season on an up note, and now must wait to see who we get in the playoffs.

Thursday tennis with the hardcore girls was hard core. Pat is playing for the recuperating Jerry, and he played tough and made it hard to win points, much less games. Becky was on her game, too, and Barb and I lost the marathon first set at 6-3. The second set was on serve at 4-5 when we were forced to the sidelines when our 90 minute court time elapsed. Jerry will be out for another month or more it appears. The doctors want him to have more treatments to ensure that the cancer doesn't recur, and he'll be have a month long series of chemo and radiation. He's a little discouraged, but it seems like a good course of action for him.

We have yet to have 48 hours of melting temps, so my face has not encountered a razor. We had about 40 hours of the requisite warmth, ending last night about eleven p.m. Spring is coming. My face is beginning to itch.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ford Bridge View

It's still wintry. Today almost climbed into melting territory, but stopped at 31 degrees. Tomorrow, maybe, a sunny 40 and the first time above freezing in much too long. Yesterday Herb took a bike ride to get a feel for what winter biking is about. It was about 20 degrees when he went out. He came back with a reddish face, but he said that the cold was bearable. I spent the day grousing about the interminable winter.

Today, I went over the Ford Bridge to Minnehaha Falls to see if it had changed. It looked a lot like my previous winter shots of it, so it you're curious, page back to some of my previous entries. Minnehaha Creek is still firmly frozen over. I trekked up to the bridge on foot to see what the river is up to. The Ford plant where they make some sort of Ford pickup truck, and which is set to close in about a year, is visible in the distance. The river has open water, but the edges retain some ice. Winter is starting to slowly give up its grip on the landscape.

I played tennis at Wooddale tonight. The cast of players changes every night as we struggle to keep the games going while Jerry recovers from his surgery and Tennis Dennis tries to recover from his shoulder and hip infirmities. I had a pretty good night. I was as close to the zone as I have been in a while and it felt pretty good. The whole group played pretty well for 90 minutes and we'll give it another run on Saturday.

I have a Super Seniors men's doubles USTA league match tomorrow night at 8 pm on the other side of Minneapolis. This is a new team for me, but I know at least three of the players pretty well. There are only two teams in this level of Super Seniors this season (the winter season) so we'll be playing the same guys about four times. The summer league of 4.0 Super Seniors gets more teams, so we'll have some varied competition then.

Thursday will be another night of mixed doubles with the hard core girls at Wooddale. Jerry is still out so we will have a sub for him, Pat G., whi is playing well, and it should be a good match. Jerry is doing well and has the stitches out from his operation. He plans to return to tennis in April.

Kagami Sensei will also return in April, or perhaps May. Her last day at work in Ogaki is March 24. She has her visa for her planned trip to India, so her plans are working out okay. She'll be home in time for garden planting.