Monday, June 29, 2009

Tiger Lily Time

The tiger lilies came out over the weekend. I guess it was time for them to begin to bloom for the summer. This one lives in my backyard.

The GTA had a session of tennis at Marie Park this afternoon. It was windy, sometimes gusting unpredictably, but the tennis wasn't bad. We managed two sets 4-6, 6-1 before taking the rest of the day off. Tennis Dennis made an appearance and explained that there is another week to wait before he returns from his current injury.

The other court was used by a guy and two 7-10 year olds that he was babysitting, he said. The boys kept throwing their rackets and refused to stop when asked. Eventually they left to go home, but for a while they were quite disruptive. Their rackets are pretty banged up from all the tossing, but no one got hurt.

Both Venus and Serena are through to the quarterfinals at Wimby and there is a large possibility that they will meet in the final. In the men's draw, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick are among the eight players left. Roger is looking good, but the guys who are left are strong players who really want to win this tournament. The finals are this weekend. I'm still picking Fed.

Ques: What's the difference between a pigeon and an investment banker?
Ans: A pigeon can still make a deposit on a Ferrari.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Turkeys in the Wild

A Sunday bike ride seemed to be the right idea. I went down the hill, down Victoria and Shephard Road to Crosby Farm. There were quite a few people out, hikers and bikers. As I went around a corner in the forested area, I encountered these wild turkeys, strolling along, acting like they owned the path. I stopped and got a couple of photos. It's the time of year when the new crop of wild animals is beginning to be seen. This is a good sized litter, and I wonder how many will actually survive to adulthood. I have also seen a few baby rabbits in the neighborhood, emerging from their hiding places late in the day, near sunset to eat grass and hostas.

There is also this photo of my transportation standing next to one of the very colorful benches that are located next to the bike path in Crosby Farm. It was a nice coolish morning, but quite windy. I was happy to get to the top of Benhill Street and make it home without any negative incidents.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Bike Ride to the Falls

It's Friday and I hadn't ridden the bike in a while. I played tennis last night and felt like my stamina is waning. So I took a ride over to Minneapolis to check on the water level at the falls and some cross training. I think GZ was over there last week, but I hadn't checked it out personally for over a month. The water is still flowing over the precipice, but at a much reduced rate. It was still a pretty sight. The falls is just 5.5 miles away so my trip totaled a little over 12 miles, my longest ride in over a month.

PP brought home her new car - a dark blue Corolla - for viewing this afternoon. It's a nice vehicle and economical to drive.

Wimby continues.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ash Tree Blues, or Purples

The ash tree blight scrutiny has spread to my neighborhood, too. Mr Moohoo has reported these purple insect traps in ash trees in various parts of the city. This one is on Grotto, near Osceola. I, too, am obsessed with the purple traps - there is a row of ash trees lining both sides of the street on the block that I live. There are a bunch of trees on Grotto that don't look very healthy, not unlike a bunch on the Mississippi River Road, which are well along in the process of dying off. There are traps in Como Park, too, near the Conservatory. Ah. rotten luck.

The temperature in St Paul set a record for the date yesterday - 97. Unky Herb and I finally uncovered the AC and turned it on for the season.

I played two sets of tennis this afternoon with the GTA. It was about 80 degrees and my stamina was good enough to last through both sets. Curt and I played together, won some games, but managed to come out behind in both sets.

Wimby is well into the first week. Both Venus and Serena are playing well and may again meet in the finals. The Screaming Maria lost today and is no longer a factor. I'm predicting Serena to beat Venus in the finals. Roger Federer is the favorite in the men's draw, except for the Brits, who are hoping that Andy Murray (a Scotsman) will win before the blanc mange aliens do. He means to win Wimbledon. I hope he does. They haven't won their own tournament in over 70 years.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot

We managed to get into the temperature into the nineties for the first time in June. I'm not sure why I claim responsibility, but, in any case, I did try to play some tennis at Marie Park in the middle of the afternoon. We (the Geezer Tennis Association - GTA [edited by TT to be correct]) played most of a set before I had to quit because of the heat and humidity. I heard 94 mentioned as the high reading, but my car thermometer sitting in the sun read 102 when I got back into it. It was probably too hot to play any more, but I managed about an hour on that piece of tarmac. I have included a photo of my equipment, the stuff I had to carry back to my car before escaping to the Matrix's air conditioner. I understand it will be about the same temp tomorrow. Summer in the city.

The tennis court that the city is refurbishing in Linwood Park has made some progress. The workmen have been by and put the fence around the court back up. The progress has been grindingly slow, but I assume that this project will finish this summer, maybe even in this fiscal year. Can we finish it? "Yes, we can."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Day for Tousan

It was Father's Day and the weather creatures were predicting rain. As was our usual custom on the day reserved for patriarchs, PP, Unky Herb and I went to the Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis. The Spoonbridge with the bright red cherry was refurbished this year - removed, repainted and reinstalled. It looked pretty good and it looked familiar. There are few changes to the park this year. There are now a boatload of wind chimes in a grove of trees near the spoonbridge and they make a wonderful musical addition to the area on a windy day like today.

We walked around, taking in the sights while it misted - from the spoonbridge and from the clouds in the sky. My kids posed for this photo in the greenhouse on the site, where the huge plexiglass carp is housed. We managed to stay dry enough and had a good time identifying plants, most of which were non-native, a fact that PP mildly disapproved of. They have some pretty and also unusual flora. Herb has perhaps more photos than I do of the day's activities.

The photo below is repeated almost every year. We stand in front of the outdoor mirror sculpture and I take our photo with the backs of the younger set in the forground. The display always amuses us as we look for ways to make it new.

The rest of the day went well, too. There wasn't much more rain until about five, after PP had done some more planting in the backyard, and I'd weeded some of my own, but mostly non-native, food and flower plantings. Herb laid out in the yard under the maple tree, resting his weary muscles.

Then we went to a movie in Eagan, the Pixar animated film "Up" about Carl, who gets his house to float away using helium balloons, and has a long cast of characters, including a dog named Doug, who talks, often about squirrels. We pronounced it a good movie and quite amusing. I laughed out loud several times at well placed witticisms.

We ate dinner at Sambols in Eagan, an Indian and Sri Lankan restaurant. The food was spicy, but good and I was treated to the meal by my employed children. Life is indeed good.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Ides of June

It's finally feeling like summer. I had to use the fan to cool off the upstairs bedrooms last night and today the temperature ventured into the 80's. I managed to get in my usual dose of tennis at Marie Park, this time in the late morning. The GTA (Geezer Tennis Association) was not there in full force. Dennis was hurting and Bill was working, so Curt and I were the only ones smacking forehands. It was a little windy, a cross wind that varied in velocity, so I had some problems with mis-hits, but the sun was shining and kept thinking that I was lucky to be out on such a nice day, and that "I love this game." We hit for about an hour and scheduled more for Wednesday afternoon. I came home for a nap.

I put off photography until nearly dark when Unky Herb was home doing his exercise program. This was taken at Linwood Park and indicates how much the sky has clouded up.

This stop sign near Linwood has been altered by some of the activist graffiti artists in the area. Below the "STOP" it says "drop and roll," a reference to what we were told to do if we were ever accidentally set ablaze. Good advice.

The Prairie Princess was home for part of Sunday. She needed some equipment for a three day campout that is part of her job at MCC. The crew is staying at Afton State Park, while they do some checking on river side environmental easements that have been retained by the state. Apparently they haven't been too diligent in maintaining the state's property rights. She took a sleeping bag and some fishing equipment, plus other necessities.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Another Heron

I guess that this is a heron. It was standing around in Lake Como eating a fish when I walked by with my camera. It was having a tough time getting the fish down its throat, but by the time I took this shot the digestion process was beginning. The wildlife around Como continues to amaze me. The birds and muskrats have settled in and it makes the walk around the lake somewhat more enjoyable. I spent a couple of hours at Como walking and enjoying a pretty nice day - not perfect perhaps, but nice. I had lots of company in the park today - people enjoying June.

This is shot of a funny little gray cloud against other gray clouds over Como. The peninsula sticking out into the lake was popular today, as were the paths around the lake.

PP was home for the morning and then was off on a camping trip with her female coworkers. They cal themselves BOWs, beginning outdoor women I think it means. (Or maybe beautiful outdoor woman.) They are off tonight at a Minnesota State Park making smores and talking trash about their bosses, I suspect.

Here's another snapshot of my tomatoes. PP and Unky Herb have been using the output of their compost experiment to fertilize the earth and the plants are appreciating the extra attention. Those little red worms in the compost heap are doing their thing.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Armstrong wins time trial

The pro bicycle tour came to Minnesota today. The Nature Valley Grand Prix. Gino and I went over to see what was happening. There was a six mile time trial to start the Minnesota event. The race started below the high bridge on Water Street very near the Mississippi River and finished at the top of Ohio Street. It was very flat until Ohio Street, but the uphill is quite abrupt. The winner of the women's race was Kristin Armstrong, the winner of the 2008 Olympic gold medal for the time trial event. She also repeated as champion of the Minnesota time trial today. She is not related to Lance.

This is the start for one of the men racers. The winner of the men's race did the six miles in about 12 minutes and 54 seconds.

This is one of the racers coming up Ohio Street. Ohio is a mean street. Besides being quite steep, it is also curved significantly. There was a light mist during the whole race, but it didn't seem to bother the riders much at all.

Floyd Landis was the big name in the race. He's trying to come back after a hip replacement and two years of banishment from big time racing because he was caught doping the year that he finished first at the Tour de France. He was forced to relinquish the title after the doping incident and a series of legal actions. This is Floyd after he finished the time trial. He didn't win the time trial, but seemed happy to be racing again.

I played tennis later in the day at Marie Park after a bit of sweeping to rid the courts of moisture. We managed three sets, all reasonably competitive. Again, no one got hurt. As Curt said after most points that didn't necessarily finish as he desired, "I love this game."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Nut Goodie

The famous Pearson's Nut Goodie makes another appearance. This time it's on a tennis racket, my main weapon on the hardcourts. Nut Goodies seem to be a lot smaller than I remember them to be, and didn't they used to cost a dime? This one was two for a buck at Walgreen's without PP's employee discount.

Unky Herb checking his new cell phone for missed calls. It's not one of those new iPhones.

It was another cloudy, cool day in the Saintly City. The temp managed to rise to the mid 60's. This is really too cool to be June. I had a walk down by the river, but the photo opportunities were less than spectacular.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Princess Power

PP was here yesterday and was explaining how she has been working and working out and now has pretty scary "guns." [That means her biceps, apparently.] So she demonstrated by posing in the kitchen. As you can see, she's pretty scary.

It was a coldish cloudy June 8th. The temperature hovered in the mid 50's and it misted part of the day. But after sweeping off the courts we were able to play some geezer tennis at Marie Park. Three sets. 6-0, 6-4, 1-6. There were a lot of nice competitive points and, even on a court with a few slippery spots, no one got hurt.

I'm still beating the backyard rabbits. I'll be able to defeat their burrowing, but I'm not so sure I can keep them away from the lettuce. My secret weapon is marigolds.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Grand Old Day Parade

It was a cool and cloudy day for Grand Old Day. They had a parade on Grand Avenue and various entertainments and foods, but the main event was the parade. Nothing says parade like a Drum and Drum Corps dressed in red and white shirts. These guys were peppy and all drums.

The other thing that says parade is an old fire truck. These guys were shilling baked beans, but it's a great old fire truck. There were politicians and new car dealers, too, but this indicates the kind of excitement I was relegated to, today - after the French Open final.

Roger Federer finally won at Roland Garros, a popular result. It was his first win there and his 14th major championship. I guess he's not yet over the hill, but he's getting to be a senior member of the tour. The young Swede, Robin Soderling, was not up to the task of beating Fed. He was a little unnerved by the attention of center court and never reached the level of play that got him by Nadal and Davydenko earlier in the tournament. Maybe next year.

I also was involved in some tennis competition. My mixed doubles USTA team had a match this afternoon at Wooddale. There was no money or hardware at stake, just some pride. My partner today was one of the hardcore girls. Barb and I managed a victory after falling behind 3-1 in the first set and then rallying to win that set and also the second set. Our team is coasting along undefeated in the young season. The tough teams will give us a test later on when we get to them.

The Prairie Princess and Unky Herb were around for most of the day, too. They spent a couple of hours at Grand Old Days and then PP planted some more native plants in the garden. We also discovered a rabbit burrow in the middle of the lawn today. I think that they like the native foliage, although I saw one of them nibbling away at my neighbors hosta plants. The hosta were almost leafless. I may be in for a battle with these bunnies. They exhibit very little fear, or at least hung around while I examined their burrow. I filled it in and now wait for their response. The win goes to the species that is most determined.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Salad Bowl

With not much else to blog about, I decided to focus on the salads that I'll be having from my backyard vegetables sometime in the next months. That is, if those rascally rabbits don't eat all the produce. There seems to be a plague of rabbits this year in the Saintly City. I have planted two tomato plants - an Early Girl hybrid of normal size fruit and a cherry tomato plant. They have taken to the spot where I placed them - well out of range of PP's native grass garden and in a fairly sunny locale. There are blossoms, but no fruit yet.

And there is lettuce. I planted lettuce seed in two different pots in the backyard, partly to thwart the bunnies, and partly because I could get them into a very sunny spot. These are Grand Rapids lettuce shoots and the other pot (not shown) is Romaine. They are growing quite well and beginning to look delicious. I sense a salad coming on.

The French Open is coming down to its last days in Paris. The women's final contestants were decided today. Two Russians - Safina and Kuznetsova. Serena Williams was the last American to survive the clay courts. She's likely do better at Wimby, on grass, in a couple of weeks. The men's title should go to Roger Federer, but they will likely play out the matches to see what happens. The big Swede, Soderling, who whipped Nadal is still in the running.

No tennis and no biking today for me. I did manage to mow the lawn and rake up the silver maple helicopter seeds that fell from my neighbor's tree over the last few weeks. That's one messy tree variety.

It was a very nice day in southeast Minnesota. Or is it center east Minnesota?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Theme Day: Feet

Theme day again. This time it calls for a photo of feet. Not to be defeated, my feat was to fete my feet. As I have done. See below.

We played tennis this afternoon at Marie Park. We scheduled the playing time to be 4 p.m., but when we arrived both courts were in use. Two guys on the first court said that there was just one game left in their contest. We waited. It turned out that they meant a set and it took them about 25 minutes to finish. On the other court two young girls, about ten, were hitting the ball around. As it turned out they lasted longer than the guys, so we didn't get on the courts on time and didn't begin play until nearly five. But for all of that, the tennis was good and we finished two sets 1-6, 6-2, sets more competitive than the scores would seem to indicate. But it was a beautiful afternoon and no one got hurt. And Curt is back from Arkansas for the summer.

PP had a day off from MCC, so she was around most of the day, puttering in the dirt of the native plant garden, and trying to transplant some of the Big Blue Stem into a pot to move to another garden. The day goes better and faster when the princess is on the prowl.

And then we had Thai food from The Taste of Thailand. Topped off with mango sweet sticky rice.

Another great day in southeast Minnesota.