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.