Thursday, July 30, 2009


The tomatoes in MBY are beginning to ripen. I had a nice salad for dinner, accentuated by about a half dozen homegrown cherry tomatoes. Did I mention fresh? So far the squirrels haven't noticed the ripening fruit, but I suspect it's only a matter of time. Did I mention that squirrels are vermin?

When you bicycle twice in a day, the second time is recycling. Today I played tennis twice, once this morning and then some doubles with Jerry and the hardcore girls. I guess that's re-smacking. I'm due for a vacation from the sport, I think. My mileage on the courts is not determinable, but I think I'll try to take some time off and try some new activities in the next week or so.

July is nearly gone. It's been coolish and very dry. An odd summer as we await the effects of global warming.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Happy LXV

Yesterday I rode my bike to Como Park and then to Hamline to get some photos for this blog and maybe to get some exercise. I stopped by the public garden that PP has been working on, off and on, with some of her Hamline cohorts. I even helped transplant some squash into the garden a few weeks ago at the behest of the same PP. It's nice to see what a garden will do with lots of sun, water, and good soil. I may be able to get some of the fruits - squash, I hope - of this garden in the fall. With PP's influence, there is a good chance.

I complained about the new tennis court's nets in a previous post. Here is photographic evidence of the net fiasco. I stopped by this evening to see if anything had changed. Nope. When I left there were two people with badminton rackets playing badminton on these courts. Will the oddness ever end?

I played some tennis this morning while the last meaningful stage of TdF was in session. I had a mediocre day, playing below par in the wind, and still feeling the effects of two straight days of bike riding. I am now well over 100 miles. We struggled through two sets, 3-6, 6-2. When I got home the stage in the mountains was over and I was only able to catch the highlights of the stage before the day's podium presentations. The race appears over - nothing left to decide. Contador - Schleck - Armstrong on the podium tomorrow in Paris.

Happy birthday to Santini - LXV from LXVI.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Alberto Contador Weighs 140 Pounds

And he leads the TdF by 4 minutes and 11 seconds. Plus, he won today's time trial by 3 seconds. Wikipedia says that he's 5 foot 9 and a half inches, essentially my height, but the scrawny Spaniard is 20 pounds lighter than I am. He's obviously not scrawny, more like a coiled cable. And he's about to win his second Tour. After such an inspiration, I took a bike ride down by Crosby Farm, past the Ford dam (the first photo), over the Ford Bridge (where the second photo was taken), over the Lake Street Bridge and home on Summit Avenue. Last night's tennis was rained out, so I needed some exercise. It was my first ride in a while, about 16 miles, but it was a nice warm day and, although not as strong as Alberto or Gino, I felt pretty good.

Pictured below is a river boat going upstream towards the Lake Street bridge from the middle of the Ford bridge.

After my nap, I went to examine the new tennis court at Linwood. The fence is completed now, but the new tennis nets are an embarrassment. They sag badly in the middle. I looked closely and found that instead of a cable attachment to the poles, with a proper adjustment crank, the nets have been duct taped to the poles. Duct taped to the poles!! The proper authorities need to be called to see if this is their final answer. The courts are not playable in this condition by any self respecting tennis player. Grumble. Grumble.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Summer Rain

We finally had some rain. The plants have been drying out and the sprinklers in the neighborhood have been keeping the sidewalks wet. Today, at last we had some rain. But part of the day was nice enough to have a walk around the grounds at Como. The cat tails along the lake have sprouted pretty high. They are part of the shoreline restoration that has been going on for the last couple of years. I must say that I like the effect it's having.

A big day in the mountains again tomorrow in France. It looked bad for Lance Armstrong for a while until he decided to get back into the climb today. There was a pretty bad accident when Jens Voigt went down and out of the race on a big downhill. He's going to be ok they are saying. Contador is looking like a likely winner of the race, but there are a few good days of racing left.

Tennis again tomorrow for me.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Armstrong in second place

The St Clair Avenue Linwood Park tennis courts are getting used. At least the one that has a fence behind the back court to keep the tennis balls off the street. The builders were gracious enough to leave some orange plastic fence up so that there is some barrier to lost balls. This is photographic evidence that local government is capable of court maintenance.

I played USTA mixed doubles at Wooddale this afternoon. It was a good match and competitive, but again, like at the British Open Golf Tournament, youth had to be served. And since I am almost always not youth, I left without a win, but with the feeling that it was good to still be able to compete and play this lifetime sport. I love this game. We had two set points in the first set, but lost 5-7, 2-6.

There was a good mountain bike race in France today. Lance Armstrong is in second place with about a week of action left. It's too soon to count him out yet.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

No 'jaune' for George

After a couple of sets of tennis with the GTA and a guest or two, I came home in time to catch a short interview with George Hincapie shortly after the race in France today. George was fuming a bit. His friends in the peloton (the Garmin team, I think) chased him enough at the end of the stage to deny him the yellow jersey by 5 seconds. He deserves to wear the yellow for one day in his life for the work he put in over the years, including yeoman work for Lance Armstrong. Tomorrow the 'jaune' will probably change hands in a mountain stage and George may be history. No justice.

This bicycle was sitting on a dock in Lake Como when I was circumnavigating the lake this afternoon. There must be a story here. It may illustrate Hincapie's view of bike racing at the moment, too.

Another pair of very pretty flowers growing out of lily pads at the Como Conservatory. The park was crawling with people today - several weddings were taking bride pictures and families were out enjoying a coolish day in July. The temperature remained in the 60's for much of the day.

The tennis courts on St Clair Avenue in Linwood Park now have nets. There were a couple of guys playing pretty good quality singles when I walked by tonight. There remains some work before everything is done. The fences behind the east court have not been re-erected yet. But progress is progress.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Black-eyed Susans

These normally wild flowers are growing in PP's native plant garden in MBY. The day was a little windy for closeup photos, but I took it anyhow. It's the season for yellow flowers, I'd guess.

I played some tennis this morning. A friend of Curt's from Arkansas was in town and wanted some competition. Tennis Dennis and I unofficially, of course, represented Minnesota, and Curt and Boyd were the Arkansas team. We played three sets of wind hindered tennis, with some strange shots and enough mis-hits to make a grown man wince. After a slow start, TD and I (TT) managed to get the feel of the wind and posted a win for the North. Carpetbaggers bow. There was some talk about making this an annual match, but we'll have to see if Boyd comes back. It's always fun to play even on marginal days, and this was pretty marginal. I guess I must love the game.

The weather seems to be taking a turn for fall-like. The weather creatures are saying that tomorrow's high temperature will be about 65 degrees. This cold weather is much like the weather in Hibbing during the last TRAM that I rode. Wednesday morning in early August when some of the people who did ride left for the open road the temperature was 32 degrees. We won't see a freeze here tomorrow, but I'll be wearing long pants again.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Not Rainy Season

We are living through a drought in the Twin Cities. It was supposed to rain yesterday, but we managed only about .1 inches of moisture. I wouldn't complain, but I'm forced to water my "garden" nearly every day. I have harvested three tiny, but very sweet cherry tomatoes as of today from the "garden." Also several leaves of lettuce, some basil, and some rhubarb.

I took this photo of River City today from very near the High Bridge. It was a coolish day in the 70's and pretty windy, but the beautiful blue sky was in evidence.

And these yellow beauties were in the volunteer garden at the overlook by the bridge and I took their picture, too. My blog needs photos and this is one I liked.

And this is the tennis court that St Paul can't finish. This is from a different angle than usual, but as you can see, there are no nets on this court. They started the job on the Linwood Courts in May. Maybe they'll have it ready for Halloween.

So I played tennis at Marie Park again. The nets there are functional and the lines, although fading, are in place and doing their job. The GTA members were there for the competition on one of the windier days that we've had for tennis. There was much mis-hitting and the gnashing of teeth. We finished two sets in an hour and a half and went home to think about something else. 4-6, 6-2. There will be more smacking of tennis balls again in the morning.

At the Supreme Court confirmation hearing today, Al Franken asked the soon to be first Latina justice if she knew which of the multitude of cases on the Perry Mason TV show was a loss for Perry. It seems that Sonia and Al were both fans of the show. Perry only lost the one case in his TV career - episode 185, it turns out.
The Episode is one that I hadn't remembered, but neither did Sonia or Al. Perry actually lost the decision early in the show and rallied to win on appeal. The information was acquired thanks to my favorite search engine - google. Useless information perhaps, but sort of fun to ferret out.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dragon Boat Races

Unky Herb was part of the dragon boat races at Lake Phalen today and so PP and I went over to see how he would do. It was part of Asian American Day celebration and festival. He was part of a 20 person team (the Flying Dragons) that paddled and otherwise inspired paddling in a contest that included about 20 teams from various organizations and companies in the Twin Cities. UH has practiced some over the last few weeks and today was the test. The first shot is the finish of their second heat of the day. UH is in the green boat in the foreground, paddling as fast and powerfully as he can. They were touched out by about a second in the race. But the day was pretty successful. They finished fourth and received a trophy and medals went to all the members. Plus they had a bunch of good Asian eats all day from the Flying Dragons support team.

This is UH's team, or at least the male members of the squad. The women were in a later photo which I missed out on. But these guys were an important part of the race engine and appear to be having a good time. And they were. PP and I were there for moral support, but also were able to track down some Mung egg rolls, Nepalese momo, Thai veggie pad thai and California roll sushi. Good eats all around.

After the races, PP wanted to go to Norway Day at Minnehaha Park to see if they had any rummagrot (or however you spell that rich Norski pudding). They were out of it. But the falls are there and I thought to have a look. The creek was basically dry, and no water was falling over the edge. It's a rare day when the creek is dry, but part of the low water effect is deliberate. They are still working on shoring up the creek bed to lessen the chance of wall collapse.

The Norway Day crowd was sparser and more subdued than the Dragon Boats, but they are more familiar ethnically and there was music and art displays from Nordic organizations in the area.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Yesterday I noticed actual work being done on resurfacing the tennis courts just down the street on St Clair. They have been lying fallow for about a month, so I went by to see what they were doing. The courts were laid out, lines and contrasting hues of green paint applied to the new surface. I came back today to get a photo of where they are. The courts look good, but the nets are not yet installed. The workmen left the place sealed up pretty well so that no one can go on the courts without doing some climbing. Some of the fencing also remains to be completed. I'm wondering how long it will lie fallow this time. But there has been progress.

More progress. The tomatoes in MBY have a red cherry tomato growing on one of the vines. I'll eat it sometime this week unless the rabbits or the squirrels get there first. PP was home tonight and she provides the scale for the tomato photo and it's larger size.

This is plant is growing in PP's native plant garden - the area where at one time my vegetables grew. This is a bottle brush grass seed head. The light from the fading sun hit it nicely as I was getting the photo.

I played some tennis at Marie Park again tonight. There were six of the GTA in attendance in really pleasant temperatures - the high seventies. There was some wind and I found myself mishitting quite a few shots. Lack of focus probably. It was good exercise and made for a good appetite for dinner when PP showed.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Beautiful Monday

It was a very nice day, especially since July can be such a hot pot. The GTA, six strong played about two hours of tennis at Marie Park. We finished in 86 degrees. Warm, hot even, but not life threatening for people who are conditioned for it.

Along the Mississippi, which I must cross to get to Marie Park, there are often show boats traveling up and down stream. I caught the Anson Northrup as it passed under the High Bridge - sometimes known as the Smith Avenue Bridge. You can perhaps tell from the photo why High Bridge seems to fit.

Herb is back from his weekend jaunt and was back at work today. He and I went to a band concert about two blocks from his office in Edina and happened to run across a familiar face in the flute section. I took a photo before the show. Where's Waldo? Or, Where's Wireless? My favorite tune may have been "That Old Black Magic." At least it's the one that I remember. The flautist's mother, BB, showed up as the concert began so we sat on the side hill in the shade and enjoyed a beautiful summer evening in the park. Most of the music was pleasant to hear.

Just reiterate the Wimbledon men's finals result. I watched this baby for over four hours on Sunday. I should perhaps get a life. Roger Federer won the longest final in the history of the event - over 100 years. Poor Andy Roddick was the victim again. 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 6-3, 16-14. Pretty good tennis.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Racing Horses

After a set or two of early morning tennis, among scattered raindrops, I went to the race track to join the people pictured below in our more or less annual trip to bet on the ponies. The hot dogs were free today and so there were quite a few people at the track. The weather was less than perfect. There were a couple of episodes of rain, some of it pretty hard during the day. As usual when I try to bet on the horses, I didn't have much information to go on, other than a couple of tout sheets and the racing program. But, all in all, I did pretty well, only losing a couple of dollars and spending a few more on a Coors NA. Gino and BB brought saurkraut and chopped onions along with grey poupon mustard to enliven the free tube steaks. I had four and could have had more, but my attraction to Hormel products waned over the afternoon. PP, Wireless and Andy (who doesn't seem to have a blog nickname or nick acronym) provided entertainment. It was nice to have them there.

I took a few pictures, including these quarter horses in the paddock before one of the races, to prove that there were athletes present. Animal athletes. Pretty animals.

Serena managed to beat Venus at Wimbledon today to win her third Wimby title and 11th major overall. She's ahead of Venus 11-10 in head to head meetings. I didn't witness the match - except for match point - because I was playing doubles with the GTA. Venus and Serena also won the women's doubles title. Tomorrow we'll see if Federer can win another major, this time against Andy Roddick.

The TdF also began today in Monoco. Lance Armstrong is riding again this year. The first day was a time trial and Lance is now in 10th place. Interestingly, Lance is not the oldest guy in the race. I think there is only one guy older though.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Tasty Minnesota

Nothing says "Taste of Minnesota" like a row of (empty) satellite toilets. I had a bike ride this morning across the river to Harriet Island where the Independence Day festival of music and junk food was just getting off the ground. This festival has been around a while. They used to stage their activities at the state capitol, but for the last few years they have been filling up Harriet Island with holiday revelry. This year they are featuring a concert by Elvis Costello. They also have a really nice fireworks display every night from the second to the fifth of July.

I went to the first Taste of Mn at the capitol when Unky Herb was a mere toddler in about 1984. UH was amazed by the lights exploding in the sky and kept exclaiming "I did that" after exceptional displays.

I managed to ride 15 miles on the old Trek that GZ gave me several years ago, so my total mileage for the year is getting dangerously close to three figures. I rode up Benhill Avenue for the second time in a week and decided that I'm still fit enough to make it without getting off and hiking.

Yesterday I went to see the victory speech at the state capitol by our new Senator, Stuart Smalley, rather Al Franken. The longest election in Minnesota history was finally decided by the Supreme Court, so I thought it may be a moment in history. Perhaps it was, but there were a bunch of speeches by political talking heads, Senators, Congress members and a couple of big city mayors, and then Al talked. I hope that he does a good job and serves the people of the state, but the speech was predictable and I left early. The faithful seemed to enjoy his rhetoric. Al is off to Washington next week to be sworn in.

Wimby update; Serena and Venus are in the finals again against each other. I pick Venus.

PP was home this afternoon. She rode over on her bike to check on the native plants growing in the garden. While she was here she had a hankering for a bison burger. Why? I don't know for sure, but we went to Kowalskis and they had some ground bison for $6.99 a pound. So we grilled up some burgers, sliced some tomatoes and ate a midsummer feast. My first bison burger. Tasty. Minnesota.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Almost Empty

July first is a theme day. The theme - "empty." I don't know how to take a picture of empty. This is a nearly empty stretch of the Mississippi River, very near the Ford Bridge. Of course it's not really empty. There are actually fish in the river and trees along the banks. But, empty enough for a theme day.

Two sets of tennis this afternoon with the GTA - 7-5, 6-4 and I wondered why I was weary when I got home. I'm better now.

The two Andy's will meet in the semis at Wimby - Roddick and Murray - and Federer vs Tommy Haas in the other one. I think they mean to win Wimbledon. Serena and Venus play in the semis tomorrow to get to another all-Williams final. I love this game.