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.

Monday, September 15, 2008

PP's Prairie

I took this photo of PP standing by the sign announcing the beginning of the prairie that she has been tending. The Nature Conservancy announces that they want no hunting, no speciman collecting, or vehicles to foul the prairie. It's a large area and contains an amazingly complex set of plants, animals and birds. The prevalent grass is big blue stem, but this time of year there are milkweed, asters, and golden rod in profusion. We walked a couple of miles looking at plants and hoping futilely for a sighting of the fringed orchid that PP is counting.

We spent a night in Fargo and found out from a resident that 95% of the population of North Dakota lives in the easternmost 15 miles of the border with Minnesota. It's in danger of tipping over.

I played tennis outside again tonight. It was in the middle 60's and windless. It was nice to be back on the courts and I played well enough to win a couple of sets from some of the geezers that I play with. The outdoor season is winding down. We have a week of good weather on tap, but after that we'll probably be playing inside at Fort Snelling or Wooddale. The equinox is less than a week away.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Scouring Rush

Unky Herb and I took a road trip to Glyndon to visit with the Prairie Princess somewhere just east of Fargo. Part of the fun was venturing to Buffalo River State Park to check out the prairie there and the adjacent Nature Conservancy prairie. It was a raw, windy morning and we were all alone on the park fields. The plants that PP knows are legion - (many). The clump in front of the two plant lovers below is Scouring Rush, a kind of dry land, simple reed. I remembered its name with a simple memory device - attach the name to a ridiculous image and then remember the image. My image was of someone thoroughly scouring the posterior of one Rush Limbaugh with a wire brush. Quite hilarious.

We made it home after a nearly four hour drive, just a few minutes ago. I'm going to bed, but may update the trip report on the morrow. I have more photos.

Friday, September 12, 2008

After and Before

The bathroom is finished. I have made promises about photos. The change was forced on me by the broken pipe in the ceiling, discovered when I returned from the road trip to Michigan. It took a couple of weeks to get it done, but, I have heard, that's pretty good time. The "after" photo is first. The nice thing about this new bathroom is that it doesn't leak. And it's blue.

This is what it looked like after the old stuff was stripped out and the plaster walls were exposed. It's not very attractive, is it?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ibu Caravan

Herb has invested in a Wii. He spent several hours getting used to the new controllers and the new games it allows. I even tried out tennis, golf and bowling. It's a pretty good way to waste a few hours. I managed to bowl a 189, which is better than I can do with real equipment.

Roger Federer won his fifth straight men's singles title at the US Open. He took care of Andy Murray in straight sets for his 13th grand slam title, one behind the lifetime record of Pete Sampras.

I played three sets of doubles yesterday. It was one of the best weather days of September so far. We played until it was almost dark and many of the points were long and well competed. It's almost time to go inside to play. Sunset comes early and the weather is noticeably cooler. I have somehow come up with a minor knee injury. It only seems to hurt after I play, but I'm back on the ibu caravan. Getting old is not for sissies.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

September Festivities

It rained around noon, but the sun came out in the afternoon. The weather was so nice that Herb and I went to the Renaissance Festival in Shakopee. It's a pleasant way to spend an afternoon in September, lots of interesting food and strolling entertainers, pretending to be folks from the Middle Ages.

I had a pretty good tennis outing yesterday with the older gents that show up on Saturdays. Tennis Dennis returned for the first time since his hip replacement and played pretty well. He's a little slower, but his hands and tennis sense are still top notch. He's going to be part of the regular crew again, starting about now.

Serena beat Jalena for the US Open Championship tonight, 6-4, 7-5. It was a very good, highly competitive match and now Serena is back to number one in the world. Roger Federer will be playing Andy Murray tomorrow for the men's crown. That could be a very good tussle, too, or Roger could be too much for Andy.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Marcie Rules Rice Park Again

Rice Park has gone back to normal. The conventioneers and the anarchists have left town - at least those (anarchists) who have bailed themselves out of jail. The denizens of Rice Park are these "Peanuts" characters. This photo from yesterday when MSNBC was in charge of Rice Park, include Marcie, Woodstock and Peppermint Pattie. Marcie sits on a bench reading a book leaving space for another weary soul to sit beside her. Today they are alone again. It was interesting to have the convention in town, including their $50 million stipend to St Paul for security, but today the Zone is gone and the streets are all open and available to citizens of St Paul.

Tomorrow I play some September tennis. We play outside at 8:30 in the morning. In September, it is often a little too cool to be comfortable at that hour. There is enough morning light, but the equinox is only about two weeks away. Summer seems to have escaped.

The US Open is nearing the championship match. For the women, Serena is again the favorite after downing Venus a couple of days ago 7-6, 7-6 and Dinara Safina today easily. She plays Jelena Jankovic tomorrow for the championship and the ranking of number one in the world. There are four men left. The semis are tomorrow. Nadal vs Murray, Djokovic vs Federer. It should be a great day for tennis fans. Unless it rains. I pick Serena and a European as 2008 US Open champs.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Charlie Brown

This convention is starting to grow on me. I went to the Zone again to see what was going on. This is the last day of the festivities. Soon we'll have our city back. The statue of Charlie Brown that sits in Rice Park will be the attraction of note for visitors to downtown, again. It's a really nice statue and commemorates Charles Schulz, home town boy who made it big.

I walked around the Zone, down 1oth Street to St Peter and then to the MSNBC stage in Rice Park. Chris Matthews was arguing loudly with Pat Buchanan on "Hardball" when I arrived, and the beautiful woman panelist was trying to keep them apart. (Except that she's not as beautiful in real life as on the tube.) They were talking about the new girl in town, Sarah Palin and comenting on her acceptance speech from last night. Then Rudy Giuliani came on and they continued their "discussion." I got a fairly good photo of the set and the surroundings with at least a few of the sign wielding crowd in evidence. It was a mixed crowd - Republicans, Democrats, independents, and an occasional Loonie. There was even some taunting from the crowd.
And to show that peaceful demonstrations were tolerated, this guy (below) with the sign stood just outside the gate to the convention Zone and brandished his sign. Quite a few of the conventioneers took his picture - presumably for their blogs. The zoned part of the city will be liberated sometime tomorrow, the anarchists will go home and Charley Brown will again be king of the coop.
There were demonstrations and protests again tonight. I understand that there were a couple of hundred arrests for marching without a license or something. That story can be found on

Later on in the evening I managed to get in a couple of sets of mixed doubles at Wooddale. I split sets and came away without serious injury.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Other Senator

There is a link on the Strib site that lists the people who were arrested in St. Paul this week. It has been a busy week at the court house so there were 30 pages of names. Our fair state has been invaded by the Doe family, Jane and John and their clones, who were repeatedly arrested for rioting, etc. The rioters who gave their addresses were mainly from out of state. Apparently the RNC was too much to be passed up.

I had another hike down to the Zone to see if I could recognize any famous Republicans. But first I recognized our Democratic Senator, Amy Klobuchar, as she was exiting the MSNBC stage at Rice Park. She had just been interviewed about some political subject or another.

Later on I recognized another woman Senator. This one is Kay Bailey Hutchison from Texas. She's the one in the bright yellow suit. She had just left the stage at MSNBC and was going back into the Xcel center for some more politicking. She is a long standing and quite powerful member of the U.S. Senate. She was surrounded by people attracted to power.

I recognized several other famous faces - Tom Ridge, Norm Coleman (again), Julie Nelson from KARE-TV - but the woman below being interviewed is not familiar to me. She was wearing a power suit, sitting in Rice Park and answering questions by the woman on the right, in an animated fashion. Let me know if you recognize her. I'm sure that she's famous somewhere.

This is a crowd shot near the MSNBC stage featuring some demonstrator who was decrying bird porn. I'm not sure what his cause really was, but he was garnering quite a bit of attention. It seems to me to come under the heading of political theatre.

It was pretty peaceful while I was near the zone. There were clearly some very important people in the crowd and it was pretty clear that they knew that they are important.

Later, I played three sets of tennis and won only two. The geezers were out in force on one of the nicest days of the summer.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hookers and Blow

The guy in the middle of my photo in the blue shirt and tie is our U.S. Senator and one of my neighbors, Norm Coleman. He was a two term mayor of the Saintly City. Norm had a speaking role at the convention tonight. He welcomed the conventioneers to "his" city. Norm is in a tight reelection battle with Democrat, Al Franken. I walked down Norm's block this week and counted the lawn signs. There were nine for Al Franken and one for Norm Coleman. This is a very blue city, but that's being out numbered by quite a lot. Norm used to be a Democrat, but became a Republican some years ago, while he was still mayor. There are those who haven't forgiven him.

The convention is going on at the X and I hear by the news that the anarchists are back on the streets, doing what they did yesterday. Stirring up commotion and getting arrested. That's how one gets on TV these days. I understand that a lot of the people arrested yesterday - almost 300 - are in jail until noon tomorrow.

One of the RNC parties last night was entertained by a musical group who calls itself Hookers and Blow. And the beat goes on.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Republican Convention Protest Day

Labor Day dawned bright and sunny. It would eventually get to 90 degrees. PP decided to join some friends down at the Capitol where a protest march against the concept of war was scheduled to take place a little after noon. She rode Herb's second string bike to the Capitol grounds and I followed somewhat later in a park and hike strategy to see how this protest would compare to the ones I'd seen in the 60's. I parked near Marshall and Western and spent the next four hours wandering in the downtown of St Paul. The first photo shows the crowd beginning to amass near the Capitol.
The crowd was mainly serious and peaceable, although I learn tonight that there were over 50 arrests of overexuberant and not so peaceable protesters.

Someone brought an ice sculpture of the word democracy to the rally. It didn't last too long in the sun and heat, but it was attractive as it melted and dripped. It was located on the Capitol Mall on its grassy expanse.

As you might expect, the police were out in force. I walked along the march route much in advance of the marchers. A significant number of the gendarmes were mounted on mountain bikes and rode around in packs to address whatever issues came up.

There were also some mounted police. These guys were equipped with body protection and were wearing gas masks. It was 90 degrees, so I'd guess that they were quite hot and uncomfortable. They were riding some very attractive looking horseflesh.

The Xcel Center, where the Convention began today, is very well insulated from outside influence. It's a version of a gated community were the fences are ten feet high and protected by a large number of security officers. To get within these areas, it was necessary to have credentials. I saw Norm Coleman exit the zone, and I'm fairly sure that our U.S. Senator has the proper credentials. I also saw Minneapolis mayor R.T Rybak, but he's a Democrat and seemed to be checking on the performance of the Minneapolis cops who had been loaned to the Saintly City for the week.

And as I left, after walking a long way around the zone, I ran into some protesters near the History Center. I don't think that they are Democrats, and they don't seem to be Republicans either. I like to think that they are merely Loonies. One of the women in the group was yelling some slogans that seemed not to make much sense. Notice that the cops are all geared up and ready for action. Those outfits look very uncomfortable.

There are several more days of this convention. Maybe I'll run into Katie Couric on the street sometime before it's all over. I'll get a picture.

Both PP and I got home safely and ate dinner together before her return to Glyndon. Herb is still in Seattle at a Shinnyo-en Buddhist get together.