Sunday, August 31, 2008

Republicans are in town

The Republican National Convention is about to begin in St Paul - a very blue city in a quite blue state. Why they chose the Saintly City to convene is unclear, but it gave me photo opportunities. I didn't think that I could get very close to the action, but yesterday afternoon I drove down to the St Paul Cathedral, parked, and hiked down towards the History Center and towards the Xcel Center. The police were stopping cars and trucks, but I was welcome as a pedestrian, or at least tolerated as workmen did the final preparations for the big shindig scheduled to start on Monday. The first photo is from the History Center parking lot and shows the general lack of cars and the presence of gendarmes in the area known as the Zone.

I walked down the hill to the Xcel center ("The X") and circumnavigated the building. There were lots of police present - St Paul officers and out of towners - and helicopters occasionally flew overhead, presumably practicing their surveillance activities for the big show next week. Workmen were actively erecting miles of ten foot high, removable fencing along 7th Street. It's beginning to look like a police state in the Zone.

There were a few protesters already in place exercising their first amendment rights. This guy was just outside the entrance to the "X" and was pretty much ignored by the police officers in attendance. He seemed pretty much harmless, but has a fairly low opinion of the Arizona Senator who will be running the big show the next few days. A guy on a bike stopped to chat with him as I took the photo.

Across the street from the "X" is a bar that closed and rented itself out to CNN for the month. They are transforming it into a headquarters and faux bar for the festivities. Not long after I took this picture, Wolf Blitzer (CNN talking head), walked out of the building accompanied by a bevy of attractive female interns as he made his way to the convention site. He passed directly by me, but didn't say "hello". I guess he doesn't know me.

I continued my walk around the Zone - passed Rice Park where MSNBC was doing a sound check and located the Fox news studio, just to the north of the "X". I also noticed the manhole covers in the Zone have been welded shut. I understand that the authorities were afraid that they would be used to break the large expensive windows in the convention building. Notice the weld sites.

I understand that a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico has caused the current White House occupant to cancel his trip to the city for the McCain coronation. And no Cheney either.

I also played a couple of sets of tennis yesterday. I didn't want anyone to think that I was ignoring my exercise program. 7-5, 7-5. Also - the U.S. Open Tennis tourney is entering its second week.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Odd Sights

It's Saturday and the Beijing Olympics are nearly over. I have a couple of photos of oddities encountered on a walk around my neighborhood. Over at Linwood Park, I encountered a sofa out in the middle of a field used for kids games - soccer, frisbee and the occasional kite flying. I don't know why it was there, but the responsible party was not within sight. Odd.

And then on the trek home, I passed this ingenious method of bracing a window air conditioner. I have seen it before, but decided to take a photo and enter this into the album of oddities. I assume that this was meant to be a temporary measure, while a more conventional bracing device was procured by the installer. Apparently temporary is a relative term.

My bathroom leak has turned into a real project. The bathroom has been gutted and new plumbing and wall decorations are being fitted into the space. I am amazed at the number of decisions that are necessary for a new bathroom, when all I want is a place to take a shower. Thanks to gzmoohoo and BB for allowing me to use their very handy construction team.

There was tennis again this morning. There were eight geezer guys playing in pairs and attempting to control the path of a tennis ball in a swirling wind, trying to hit some of those tennis shots that a few scant years ago were nearly automatic. I played with Bill C. as my partner. We are the oldest of the eight, but played well enough to split sets 3-6, 6-3 to two different pairs. Good enough tennis and great to be outside on a cool August morning in Minnesota.

How about that Jamaican guy, Ursain Bolt? That man can run. Three gold medals and three world records.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blazing Star

There are some flowers in the prairie garden in my back yard (MBY) that have appeared in the Prairie Princess's blog. These are blazing stars. The arm belongs to PP, as she was home for the weekend to tend to her prairie garden and to visit with her family. The blazing stars are quite impressive, like purple cat tails.

It's been a busy couple of days. My problem with plumbing has turned into a new bathroom project. It seems to be impossible to fix the plumbing without destroying the bathroom tile, and the connections to the rest of the bathroom are many. Besides, I'd like to see if I can live two weeks without a shower in the house.

I played USTA Super Seniors again tonight. I ended up on the short end of a pretty good match against the team from White Bear Lake that seems to have all the good geezer players. We played at Fort Snelling starting at 6:30 p.m. and by the time we finished the sun was nearly set. It was a beautiful sunset, but the lack of light was beginning to make the tennis a little iffy. The summer is winding down. I was happy to be on the court, however. There are far worse places to be.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

August Flees

August is nearly half gone. Next week is the first week of the Minnesota State Fair. Soon thereafter a herd of Republicans come to town to choose a "white-haired old guy" as their presidential candidate. There will be a circus-like atmosphere in staid old St. Paul. Soon thereafter school starts.

This weekend the Prairie Princess was here to visit. We saw a Woody Allen movie, ate some Thai food, and went to the Greek Festival at the Greek Orthodox Church on Summit. She's gone now, back to the prairie restoration project in Glyndon. She and Herb were clowning around in the kitchen before she left and the result is below.

Quote of the day: Said by Walter Dix, the bronze medal winner in the 100 meter dash in Beijing. He said this of Usain "Lightning" Bolt, the gold medal winner in world record time. He said, "That man can run."

If you saw the race you probably know what he means, and how understated it is.

I played tennis three times last week after our return from the east shore of Lake Michigan. I'm in a slump. The zone is nowhere to be seen. I'll be searching for it all week.

Herb is off to Como Park to see the lantern floating ceremony that closes the Japanese Festival that has been going on today. He's riding his bike.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sunset over water

It seems like time to resume blogging. I stopped because it didn't feel right after Ted, husband of Nancy, and father to the SLO's, was lost in the motorcycle accident in Michigan. He would perhaps have liked this photo of the big lake from the east side at sundown on my last day there last week.

I'm back in Minnesota, my karma has been questionable for over a week, but life and blogging must go on.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Storm at Sunset

The sunsets have been thwarted. Tonight a big storm rolled in and snuffed the latent sunset. This was as close as we came to a sunset at about 8:30 as the clouds took control of the sky. A bad karma day all around.

Herb and I managed a march to the end of Big Red's pier this morning and some running on the beach. It was my third trek to the lighthouse this week. It's Wednesday and the mass of humanity that usually inhabits the beach down there on weekends was not in attendance.

The blueberries are holding out and still are tasty. Blue Crops, I think.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Yesterday's Post Today

Yesterday the blogger failed me. I would have posted this picture then, so I am doing it now. Herb and I took a long walk down to the Spy Glass dune in the afternoon and had a look at the big lake from there. In this photo, Herb is lounging on a bench in an area that appeared to be decorative rather than functional. He's pulling off the act with serious aplomb.

We have had a deficiency of sunsets of late. Both last night and tonight were bereft of colorful sky at the appointed hour. There are no guarantees of sunsets even on the big lake, but we always expect a couple of very good ones every year here.

Herb and I managed to get in about 45 minutes of tennis ball smacking at a local park just off James Street. It was muggy but it was nice to be able to hit some.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Where the Heck is the Prairie Princess?

Another death march with Herb, part of it on the run, and some bad badminton highlighted the first Sunday in Michigan. We finished off with a tunnel park trek to see how they fit 3.5 billion people on the beach there. They had gone. [To paraphrase my favorite George W. joke: He's told, "There were 4 Brazilian beach goers at Tunnel Park." Amazed, he asks, "How many are a brazillion???"]

Cousins talking and bonding near the summit of the dune at Tunnel Park - Herb and the newly anointed Domestic Goddess.

Another beautiful day in southwestern Michigan.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Winds Came

It was a very windy day by the big lake. It seemed like a day to recover from bike trips and, perhaps, to take a march to Big Red at the state park. It's a long trek, but one that I've repeated many times in the past. The reward is a chance to see if the lighthouse has changed since my last visit and the challenge is to get a unique photo. This, at least, proves that I made the full distance to the pier.

On the way back from the Big Red visit, I ran into this gang of ruffians. They seemed friendly and, indeed, familiar. They were coming to meet me on the beach - Nikki, Totally Jammin', Unky Herb, and Nancy.

Later in the day, after a trip to the farmer's market for cherries, blueberries, tomatoes, cukes and zukes we trekked to Tunnel Park to run down the dune and get a picture of Herb jumping off the wall next to the downhill. We're trying to get him in midair with his arms flailing about. We'll be trying again tomorrow after something less than success today. The picture below is the walking group standing on top of the dune in the wind. I guess it was gusting to about 30 mph, at least according to some reliable sources.

Another fine day in southwestern Michigan.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pretty Darn Good Sunset

I guess if I say that the sunset was pretty, I should prove it. This is from the deck area of the Santini Bread and Breakfast not so far from Big Red. In fact, Big Red is just a death march away.

A Day by the Big Lake

It's the first day of August. Herb and I are visiting at Santini's Bed and Breakfast, a fine establishment near a very large lake. The proprietor of the establishment is shown below at Tunnel Park with the lake in the background. The weather is very nice and we were able to get in a bike ride today - 13 miles with a stop at Bowerman's Blueberry Shop for a quart of blue joy.

This would be Herb himself, jumping off the start point for the fabled run down the dune at Tunnel Park. This is the best of several takes, but we may get a better one later in the visit. He did not hurt himself.

Herb again. He's lording it over mere mortals, standing atop a structure on the dune at Tunnel Park. It was a beautiful evening with a beautiful sunset.

We miss the Prairie Princess who is saving the prairie, one orchid plant at a time. She's hard at work in Glyndon, toiling for the Nature Conservancy.