Monday, August 31, 2009

Jerry's Team

This is the picture of the team featured on the Northern Section web site as reported by Mr Moohoo in his blog. Jim and Carol in the front row, Terry, Becky, Heidi and Dave in the middle row, Bob, Barb, TT and Jerry in the back row. A couple of players were not there for the photo. The resolution is not very good, but it's what I have at the moment.

The rules say that teams that go to the national tournament must break up the following year, but are allowed to keep three players from the nationals team. It's a shame to have to break up the team, but rules are rules.

It was a cool day in Minnesota. The GTA played doubles at a new park today, because Marie Park was in use. After trying a couple of Mendota Heights high schools and finding them filled with high school girls tennis teams practicing for the season, we found a public park empty and played a couple of hours of pretty good tennis. The geezers were tough tonight and my record was not as good as usual, but again, no one got hurt or into a fight. The move to indoor tennis is just a couple of weeks away.

I came home, had a bison burger for dinner (cooked by PP), and watched some US Open tennis on ESPN2. Venus hurt her knee and was nearly upset by a Russian woman before winning in the third set. It should be a good couple of weeks of tennis at the Open.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tousan to Tucson

Sometimes there is some tennis news to pass on. The sectional tournament for mixed doubles finished this afternoon at about 6 p.m. In the end our little team of ragamuffins managed to go undefeated and qualified for the national tournament in Tucson, the week before Thanksgiving. I want to make it clear that I was just a small part of the tournament. I played in just one of the five matches over three days, and although I managed to be on the winning team in that match, most of the credit goes to the top six players, including my mixed doubles partners on winter Thursday evenings - the hard core girls - and three strong 4.0 men. I'm proud of their play and their ability to last through the tough matches. The last match against the other section winner went 2-1 to us, but was decided in a third set tie breaker 10-8. A close score, but enough to send us on a tennis vacation in November in a warm climate. The team "Stahnke 8.0 summer" won't get mentioned on the 10 o'clock news, but there will be mention and a photo in the USTA northern section magazine later this fall.

I didn't have my camera along for a team picture, but I came home and had PP take this picture of me in my new black shirt, the prize for winning the section. The tags are still on the shirt. I'll pass along a team picture if I gain access to the one they took at Ridder Arena.

We went to India House and ate some flavorful Indian food as a celebration.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


The tennis courts at the University of Minnesota are in Ridder Arena, the same building where the women's hockey team plays. The University tennis team plays their home matches there, too. The USTA mixed doubles sectionals are being held there this weekend, while the rest of the state goes to the State Fair. The competition is a little over half completed for the weekend.

So far, we have played three other level 8.0 teams who won their respective leagues. We are still undefeated, but the favored team lies ahead of us in the schedule, tomorrow about noon. They were upset today by another strong team, so we have a decent chance of getting through to the final match tomorrow afternoon, even if we lose in the earlier match. A win there would allow us to go to the national mixed doubles tournament. The tie breakers are favorable to us yet. So I may get another chance to play tomorrow.

I played only one match, and that was with Barb Lowe, my usual partner, against a Duluth team, Joe and Brenda. We won a pretty good match 7-5, 6-1. It was Barb's third match of the tournament, but she is, after all, one of the hard core girls. I was happy to contribute to her third win. We'll see what happens tomorrow, but I did get two free tee shirts, a stitched stocking cap, and lunch for my $12.50 entry fee. Not bad in the loot department. And no one got hurt.

PP and UK are off to a concert tonight, which I missed because of the tennis matches. The concert is a benefit that PP has been helping organize and features some native American influences. PP was looking around for ceremonial tobacco to either use in the concert or to present to the performers. As usual, I'm a little light on the details.

Friday, August 28, 2009

August Wanes

There are monkeys and orangutans at Como Park. They don't always seem that happy.

I played a little tennis this morning to warm up for the weekend tournament. It rained overnight, so I had to sweep the water from the courts before we played. It was the second time that I've played at the new St Clair Avenue courts and the first time that I had to sweep it. It's a new surface, and thus it is pretty flat and not yet subject to puddling. The sweeping went faster than for other courts that I've swept lately. We mostly just stroked the ball back and forth, practiced volleys, served and returned serve some, and called it a day. It was morning tennis, but it was enough activity to warrant a nap. I think I'll be ready for my match tomorrow.

The US Open begins on Monday. Roger Federer and Dinara Safina are occupying the top seed positions. Andy Murray and Serena Williams are the second seeds. I think the champions will come from these four individuals. It will be an interesting tournament, as it usually is. My sentimental favorites are Andy Roddick and Venus - Andy because of his near win at Wimbledon, and Venus because she's Venus.

PP came home for a few minutes this afternoon. She's moving a few of her possessions today and finishing her move back to the homestead on Sunday. She was here for about five minutes and was off to see some friends.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Visitors from the South

We had a visit from from some Southerners today. Wade, Kim, and their daughter Bea were in town for Kim to attend a class. We gathered some of the usual suspects and had a potluck picnic at Minnehaha Falls. The weather was superb, one of the nicest days in the history of days. This is the best of the photos that I got. My photos of Kim were not so good, but you can see what an attractive four year old Bea has become. We had grilled chicken and an assortment of side dishes while we talked over the last few years. We remembered that Wade is about a year older than OSLO, and that he has been away from Minnesota since he was about seven. So long that he had to use GPS to find the park. We stopped to look at the falls, too. It was pretty with a healthy flow of water over the edge, but it was too dark for a decent photo, so you may have to check out a recent blog entry from GZ to get a good feel for its flow.

No tennis today. This weekend promises to be taxing. The mixed doubles sectionals will be held at BaseLine Tennis Center at the U on Mn on Saturday and Sunday. We have a chance to advance to the nationals, but it will take a good weekend's play to get there. It's a team thing, so we'll have to play and see what happens.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Como Pool is Cool

I went for a walkabout at Como Park this morning and early afternoon before the scheduled tennis time. The park was crowded with people today. I guess it was because it was a fabulous August day and there are only about two weeks before school starts up again. The media folks in the Twin Cities are already hyping the great Minnesota Get-together - the State Fair is about a week or so away. The people at the park were wringing as much enjoyment as possible from the park before the dreaded return to the schools. The Como reflecting pool was looking cool.

It was windy day tennis today. We had six older gents today - nearly the full complement of the Geezer Tennis Association (GTA). We meant to play at Marie Park, but we were out-scrambled for one of the courts by a quartet of women and we took our act to the top of the hill at Sibley High School. Usually, it's a fine place to play - newer courts and bright sunshine, but it's no good on windy days. They are too exposed to the wind. We played anyway, but the points were radically affected by the wind swirling here and there. We were committed to an hour and a half of tennis, which we accomplished successfully but not artfully. We'll try the new courts at Linwood on our next windy day. They are less exposed to the elements.

Summer is beginning to wane.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Plants and a Flutterbye

I took the day off from the tennis wars and went to Crosby Farm by the Mississippi to check on the native plants that are being encouraged there. The field of black eyed susans is in bloom. PP and UH put in some time this spring tending this plot one Saturday morning. The warm August weather has dried the blooms a bit, but we have had some rain to keep them perky. In fact there was some unexpected rain today, a day when it was supposed to get to 90 and the air quality supposedly suspect.

The native plants also attracted monarch butterflies. I have a devil of a time getting a photo of them however. They continue to flutter just out of camera range, but I caught this guy sipping some nectar. You may have to click on the photo to get the enlarged version to see it.

Another view of the tomato crop in MBY. These are the cherry tomatoes and they are ripening steadily, furnishing local and fresh veggies to our diet. And they are also pretty tasty.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Birds doing bird things

It was a hot day, but I hadn't been to Lake Como since my trip to the much larger, less algae and weed infested lake by the dunes, so I braved the construction zone driving impediments, drove to the park and took a walk this morning. It was not yet steaming hot and there were people walking about and a lot of birds hanging around in the water. I tried to sneak up on this egret, but he spooked just as I snapped the shot and I got his take-off. There were other folks watching him and they exclaimed about the bird's wing span and the great opportunities there are to see a variety of bird life now that the shore has been returned to a more natural state.

The water of the lake is filled with green algae, a result, no doubt, of runoff from lawn fertilizer from the homes in the area. These ducks didn't seem to mind the algae, maybe even enjoyed it, but the green color gives the scene an almost other world look. There were lots more ducks on the lake and a variety of varieties.

And as I was almost all the way around the lake I encountered this egret - perhaps a snowy egret. They spook pretty easily when danger presents itself, so I was lucky to get as close as I did. The bird seemed secure and stayed around for several shots. It was a pretty good bird day at the big park.

And tennis broke out somewhat later at Marie Park. It was 90 degrees when I got there at 4 p.m., but our foursome of older gentlemen was determined to play. It was four retired guys playing tennis on a day that was too hot to play and a day when the air quality was not up to snuff either. But we played two sets, not bad tennis, but tennis that was going down hill towards the end of the second set. No one suggested that we play a third set, but we will all be back on Saturday for more. The sets were ok, 6-3, 6-2, and there was much profuse sweating and hydrating by the geezers. We finished about 5:40 and the temperature had slid back to 88. I came home, had an O'Doul's and showered up. I guess that I still love this game.

There is also a big golf tournament in town this week - the PGA Championship. The Tiger is in the contest, but I don't think I'm likely to get any pictures of him. It's too hot for watching golf.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I'm home from Michigan. I brought some of the dune sand and 10 pounds of blueberries with me. The blues have been shared with friends of PP and Unky Herb, but we have still almost five pounds in the refrigerator. Normalcy is beginning to erupt. I have played tennis twice, doubles at Marie Park and an hour of singles rallying on the court on MacKubin Street, and am scheduled for more tomorrow. Today I checked the new Linwood Park court to see if the nets have been updated to real nets in my absence. To my relief, the courts are now standard issue, quality adjustable nets. The duct tape is gone. I will play on these courts sometime soon.

PP took a few photos of the trip home from the front seat of the Matrix. This one was taken shortly after the first downpour and just before the second downpour on the freeway (US 90) north of Chicago. The trip was about eleven hours on the road. My statistics for the round trip to and from Holland. 1321.3 miles using 41.92 gallons of gas for an overall mileage rate of 31.75 mpg. The gas cost $107.63. That's 8.15 cents per mile ($0.0815). The miles include 1160 travel trip miles and and 161 local miles.

I'm missing the sunsets, the lake shore, and the good company on the other side of the big lake.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

It Rains Sometimes

In the morning Saturday seemed to be lost to storms. We did some rainy day things, including buying about 20 pounds of blueberries from the blueberry farm on James Street. Then some lunch. But by later in the afternoon the rains stopped, but the wind kept on keeping on. We had a pizza and salad dinner and then I walked south on the beach to the state park to see if the red warning flags were up. Sure enough the authorities were warning people not to swim, because of the danger in the water. Also, sure enough, there were quite a few swimmers testing the surf.

There was also a group trek to Tunnel Park, as is pretty normal for this week. We climbed the dune and several of us ran down the dune on the other side. I ran down it myself, but not with the same pizzaz as UH, PP, and the SLO's. I think this photo represents the activity on the dune pretty well - PP zigzagging down the sand.

As we walked back to the house on the dune the sun did a very nice job of setting in the west. It was a nice surprise after the way the day began. It was a nice sunset and a nice vacation day.

No tennis to report today, but a return to my schedule of doubles action is imminent.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

On the Deck

There is much fun to be had on the deck looking over the big lake. UK and PP were enjoying the view and contemplating a march to Big Red.

The required photo of Big Red, the local lighthouse. It was a very nice day, the flags warning against swimming were down and the beach people were back at the state park. It's a long walk, but worth the time and energy.

PP cooked bison burgers for the assembled masses today. We found a bison ranch in town and we bought a couple of pounds of ground, grass fed bison for dinner. It seems strange to see the big creatures this far from the prairie, but there is a small herd on the north side of town. At the same store they sell home made wooden shoes. And lots of Dutch memorabilia.

Dinner was good and the after dinner trip to tunnel park and a great sunset finished the day.

Monday, August 3, 2009


The winds were blasting from the southwest all day, often above 30 mile per hour. The state park had its red flags up to indicate that there would be no swimming today. But, of course, there were some swimmers and several wind surfers out in the big lake demonstrating their invincibility. The evening news reported at least one drowning from inattention to rip current in Grand Haven.

This is "Pearl" from last night, contemplating, perhaps todays activities. Tonight she organized and cooked a great dinner of feta fish, couscous, an Unky Herb salad, some cooked summer squash and more. We had ten for dinner, but were short three important diners who we expect in the next few days. They should be assured that the food is good and the hospitality "top drawer."

Unky Herb, the Princess and I still managed a "death march" to the pier in the state park. We faced into the gale on the way south and were wind aided on the way back. We didn't go to the end of the pier, because the waves were washing across the surface, and I didn't want to get my clothes wet. There were a few people out there taking photos as the waves broke. This wind and storm has done some damage to the beaches, reclaiming some land and leaving lakes on the beach in some areas, but the big lake does what it wants to do. See the waves in the photo below.

I made another trip to Tunnel Park and have run down the dune to the bottom without aid and without falling. Success is mine.

Another fine day in Southwest Michigan.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lakeside Sunset

The sun went down at about 9 pm Michigan daylight time. It was a nice sunset and, as is usually the case, quite difficult to capture its true allure in a photo. But this photo captures some of the beauty and also a passing motorboat in the big lake. The sunset was preceded by a jaunt to Tunnel Park and before that by a mixed grill cookout and serious eating. The last walk of the day included the 67 stairs to the top of the dune, a run down the dune by many of the previously mentioned serious eaters, and the 68 steps to the top of the dune from the inland side. It was a good first day in the land of Jerry Ford.

This is Unky Herb with a stick of carbon standing part way up the dune at Tunnel Park. The dune grass and the blue, blue sky make a nice contrast and illustrate the end of a Michigan August day.

As we waited for the sun to set as we sat overlooking the lake, Unky Herb snapped the Prairie Princess and me goofing for the camera. I later counted the 33 steps from the lake level to the deck at the top of the dune.

We met some new friends of the SLO's and OSLO today. They helped cook and eat dinner on the dune. They seem like good people and we'll likely see them again. I have photos which are available on request for those interested. The Michigan blueberries are ripe, large, and sweet. The dreaded Elliots are not yet being sold in the roadside stands.

A really nice day in southwest Michigan.