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.