Sunday, February 28, 2010

English Athletes in the Great State of Florida

Yesterday it rained and stayed cold. Relatively cold. On a walk to the local park just before the deluge, I took this shot of the sky and the overhead wires. The high temp for the day was 57 degrees.

Today was nicer, but still not what one expects from the Florida heat gods. After a short bike ride (a little over 3 miles) to procure a newspaper this morning, Santini and I went to Oyster Creek Nature Sanctuary and walked around the path (about two miles) through the southern pine trees on top of the crushed sea shell covered trail. There was a dock next to the waterway so I photographed my hostess there.

While checking out Port Charlotte info on Wikipedia, I discovered that one of the famous residents of Port Charlotte is Wayne Rooney, the Manchester United soccer megastar. He apparently bought a lavish condo near the long bridge to Punta Gorda some years back for 320,000 pounds. Also, according to other internet sources, about 30 other English soccer players own places in the same complex. While the value of Rooney's condo has diminished considerably, he apparently still owns it. We are considering a trip to the condo complex, Harbor Pointe, to check out the digs and perhaps tour the grounds. I doubt that Wayne himself is around because there are MannU games scheduled for today and he likely is plying his trade. I wonder why he chose Port Charlotte as his American hideaway.

It's amazing what one can learn from Wikipedia.

We had homemade pizza and salad for dinner as we watched a very entertaining hockey game from Vancouver for the Olympic gold medal. Despite the Canadian team's win over the USA pros in overtime it was quite a good ending to a good day.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Signs of Florida

A trip to Punta Gorda produced a photo of this Indian brave carved into a monkey pod tree near the waterfront. A face of a female Indian is carved on the opposite side. It was a coolish day for Florida with a clear blue sky, about 65 degrees. We spent a while walking to Fishermen's Village and back. There were tennis courts and players, mostly about level 3.0 lobbing shots back and forth. There was a sign announcing that the club had won a level 6.5 tournament - a level previously unknown to me.

An interesting feature of this area of Florida is the tendency to overdo the signs in areas of attraction. The number of warnings and detail thereof is astonishing. At the playground along the waterfront this sign is a good example of creeping signism. For instance, the instructions for the slide remind the users, "Do not slide improperly." For the seesaw, "Do not jump off seesaw without warning your partner." Probably good advice, but who's going to stand around and read the warnings?

The Olympic hockey and curling tournaments have been taking up some of my attention. The USA-Canada game for the gold in women's hockey was exciting, but not a good result for the Minnesota players on the USA team. I'm watching the women's curling gold medal game as I type.

It was another very nice day in southwest Florida.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Sun Also Rises

The sun rises across the lake in a quite attractive way in this part of southwest Florida. I awoke this morning after a late night landing in Fort Myers to find outdoor water in the liquid state. After that a good day was sure to follow.

This is Santini standing in harm's way, very near a dangerous alligator sign at the nearby Kiwanis Park. Luckily the gators kept their distance. I understand that they can move pretty fast, but as I told Santini, I was not worried. I didn't have to outrun the gator, I only had to outrun her.

I had to even the score from earlier in the day. We were talking about food, in relation to the French language. We agreed that the word for ham in French is "le jambon." We then switched and talked about squid. The word for squid is "le calmar." I suggested, in reference to squid, that it was my policy not to eat any creature which might be smarter than I am. Santini remarked that then I probably wouldn't be eating any jambon. It was the best laugh of the day.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Street Scenes

There is not much scenic about Minnesota's February. The snow is still piled about two feet high in the yards and the streets that don't have black ice, are plagued with potholes. I took a couple of walks around the neighborhood today, partly to get some exercise, partly to run some errands, and partly on a quest for a photo to represent today. About a block from home this stop sign is buried to about half its height in dirty, crunchy snow. A lot of it was deposited by snow plows, snow blowers and shovel wielders. It's not a pretty sight, but is representative.

Further up the block at Grand Avenue are some businesses that are surrounded by gray lushness (?). The banks along the street are navigable for the hale and hearty, but intimidating for the aged and injured. Grand has a few potholes, but they are not nearly as impressive as the ones on the freeways and more heavily traveled routes. I hurried on after the photo, because the temperature was about twenty with a north wind and thus a significant wind chill.

The sun is getting higher in the sky and the odds are good that the snow and ice will be gone in six weeks or so. The odds are also good that the good people living along the Red River in Fargo and Moorhead are going to get flooded out again this year.

We love it here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Daughter of Norway Blog

I don't have much to say tonight. Except that the Prairie Princess has started a blogspot blog which she calls Daughter of Norway. I have added it to my list of links, too.

This cartoon(?) photo came in an email a while ago from a former co-worker and gave me a chuckle. I don't know about its owner or copyright status, but here it is.

The Olympics continues. The US curlers - most of them are Minnesotans - have had a mediocre tournament and are out of the medals. It has been fun watching them and the very skillful Canadians stratagize their way though the matches. It gave me a renewed appreciation for the sport.

The American hockey teams are also doing well. The women are into the gold medal game against the Finns or the Canadians - probably the Canadians. Many of the USA players are from Minnesota and have played at least a few games at Ridder arena at the U of Mn, where Mr Moohoo has season tickets. The gold game should be a barn burner.

I'm beginning to dream about clay court tennis again.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February Warms a Bit

The corner on winter seems to have been turned. I could be wrong. But it was over the temperature when the solid state of water changes over to the liquid state. Ice melts.

PP was home and we decided to check out the state of Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary over by Metro State U. It was a beautiful sky - deep blue away from the sun and a paler blue on the sun side. The vegetation is still covered by a couple of feet of snow, but there were paths to walk on and crisp air to breathe.

There were even ducks on the open water by Carver's Cave - all mallards. I think they may have spent the whole winter at this watering hole.

The skier from Buck Hill, Lindsey Vonn, won her Olympic gold medal today in the down hill. Nice job.

I haven't been able to catch any curling from the Olympics. I guess they aren't being televised, perhaps because the curlers aren't doing well enough. Curling may be a soft sport, but it isn't ever decided by judges assigning style points and thus is a "real" sport. Ice dancing - not a real sport. I like to watch it and recognize real athleticism and the hard work and talent that it requires, but not a "real" sport. Skiing is also a "real" sport.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

D-Day Plus One

My "life numbers" spread sheet reminds me that I am 24,597 days old as of today. It was a nerve racking weekend waiting for the day to come and pass, and I now feel a little more calm and just a little bit older than last week. And I'm feeling swell. And well enough for two pretty sweet sets of tennis 6-3, 7-6 at Fort Snelling. I played like an old man some of the time, but moments of youthful energy came back a couple of times and it all ended well. I'm going to have to solve the problem of playing during my usual lunch hour, and thus missing the necessary nutrition to keep my energy level high. Today I had a good breakfast (oaty meal) and a small snack (half a banana and some herring) before the action, plus a Cliff bar during play, and it was not enough.

Earlier Gino posted a curling song in honor of the Olympics. It got me to thinking about the Miller rink and our years of curling at the St Paul Curling Club. This photo was taken there in '07. We had some fun games then and some that included our rink battling another rink in an extra end. We even had a seven end one time, I think. A rare thing of beauty, that can only be surpassed by an eight end.

An eight end is rare, and finding a video of one is really nice. For you curling fans, this is really fun to watch.

And hey, the temperature rose above 32 degrees today for a few hours - the first time in a very long time.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Icicles on the Falls

The snow is over for a while and the cities are pretty well dug out from under the snow blanket. It was clear and reasonably pleasant (in the 20's) in these parts, so I went to Minnehaha Falls to see how the winter is going over there. The paths to the falls are plowed, but there were very few folks there to take in the view. It's pretty dramatic to see all those icicles hanging from where the falls should be. I've taken pictures of the falls in nearly every month of the year for this blog, and it is still an attraction - a place to walk and see some nature.

And tonight I went to tennis at Wooddale. It was a very entertaining evening. We, the hardcore girls (HG) and Jerry, managed most of two sets - 7-6, 5-5 - before we were forced to give up the court. Lots of good long points and running around retrieving lobs and angle shots. Good exercise and time well spent. Then I went to Yang's for mildly spicy singapore rice noodles to bring home. I shared the tasty meal with PP and UK. It was a pretty good day.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The February sun makes an appearance

As you can see by the photo, winter is still with us. But the sun came out and some of the snow started to melt, even though the temperature only reached 24 degrees. The blue sky was elating and I was able to walk around outside a couple of hours without freezing to death. The February sun is beginning to feel like a real heat engine. The snow emergency in the Capitol City was successful, in that they plowed the streets - east-west and north-south - and, as a bonus, they filled in the sidewalk entry to the street with a generous helping of compacted dirty snow from the street, which I removed later in the day. It's part of my exercise program, apparently. I took a picture of my neighbors windblown garage roof and the pleasant blue behind it.

And the top of my own garage - again featuring the snow and the weather vane against the deep blue sky.

On my walking tour of the immediate area, I passed two tennis parks, one with two courts and one with four. Both areas were locked and chained and the surface was covered with a couple of feet of snow.

Not very much is happening this week. We haven't had as much snow as Washington D.C., but we've had enough to cause a yearning for summer.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Simulated Avalanche

We are in the middle of a snow event. We have had snow continuously for 24 hours and are expecting, according to the weather experts, the snow to continue until noon tomorrow. I've been out for two rounds of snow removal with my trusty snow shovel and the two snow throwers that live here. There is a certain cold beauty that a good snowstorm brings to the land.

Before I began the first round I took a photo out the back door. The snow was still and white and waiting expectantly to be moved. And so I did.

The first round was aided by the efforts of the Prairie Princess. We were done with the job and rested on our shovels in front of the house. So I captured her image.

News item: "A skier was buried beneath an avalanche for 17 hours in the Swiss Alps before being pulled from the snow with only minor hypothermia. The 21 year-old man appeared to have survived because he was trapped next to a pocket of air." - Today's Strib

After the first round I roamed around the neighborhood a while, admiring the way the snow engulfed the landscape. And I mailed a letter at the mailbox on Oxford. The streets looked pretty much like the photo below. I stopped in the middle of Fairmount to snap the picture, knowing that the traffic today was light and moving slow. St Paul is expected to declare a snow emergency sometime in the next 24 hours, but so far not so much. I suspect that plowing will not improve the street surface much at all. Minneapolis is plowing tonight.

Most of the rest of the day was eating and planning what to eat. When Unky Herb came home tonight we shoveled round two. The main course for dinner was Santini's "squash in the oven." That and mac and cheese with eggs ala moohoo - spiced with the correct amount of dill. And bean salad. And herring. After a day of shoveling there is no need for gourmet cooking. Yum.

That cooking blog is coming in handy.

Tennis for tomorrow has been canceled due to injury to one of the anticipated participants. A second consecutive day of rest.

"So much of life is disappointment. That's why we have art." -Joyce Carol Oates

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl 44

A busy day. I played some tennis at Fort Snelling and then came home to find Unky Herb doing his P90X exercise program, using the DVD that comes with the program, and generally tying himself in knots. He was done in time for the kickoff of the big event of the day, Super Bowl XLIV. (Why are they using Roman numerals?) He's been doing this exercise program for a couple of months and he seems almost addicted to it. I guess it gives him pleasure, and he's in super condition.

Since PP was giving skating lessons in Minneapolis, and then planned to spend the span of the game with Wireless, I was able to make my own snacks for the expected exciting event. I whipped up some family recipe guacamole and a cream not-key lime pie (not key lime because the limes came from non-key sources) from Santini's recipe. With those two treats and some herring in wine sauce (no liver sausage sandwiches), I noshed while I watched a pretty good football game. It was nice to see the Saints win, but it was an upset of the odds makers' projections. I was happy to see that the whistle blowers didn't decide the game.

It was great to see Drew Brees holding his son and getting emotional about the big moment. The great thing about sports is that it's pretty much unpredictable, and this was fun to watch.

The weather creatures are predicting another significant snow event here in the next two days. It won't be nearly as big a deal as the two feet of snow that fell in Washington D.C., but it will add to the miserable conditions of the side streets in the Saintly City. I suspect I'll have another significant opportunity to shovel snow.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Snizzle is a mixture of drizzle and snow - exactly the blend that we are currently experiencing in the Saintly City. It was not a day for photos. Too dark and dank and gray. So. I looked through the archives for a purty flower and I'm posting it here. I took it two years ago in February at the Como Conservatory.

I played two sets of tennis at Wooddale with Jerry and two hardcore girls. We split the sets and I left to face the raging snizzle. I, of course, stopped at Yang's for some tasty vittles. And then went home through the snizzle.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Snow Angel

There was a fresh layer of snow on the ground and the temperature rose above 20 degrees (21, I think). The sky was blue-ish tinged with cloud. I had no tennis to attend to and I went out for a walk at Lake Como. Como is 1.6 miles around and normally is easy to get around without frost bite. Today was harder, but it was a pretty day. After getting most of the way around without a photo, I decided to go out onto the lake to see if there were photo angles previously unused. About 20 yards from shore, I encountered the nicest snow angel that I've seen in moons. Someone had created it and went on to walk out further on the ice, perhaps to do some ice fishing.

The pretty sky and the expanse of blue sky cried out for a photo. I'm not sure this does it justice, but it is taken from the ice surface and represents February in the tundra. There were tracks on the ice, a skier, and a group of people engaged in ice fishing while I was there, but not necessarily visible in the photo..

I'm not sure that I would ever fish through the ice on Como, and I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't eat any fish caught here, but other people have other ideas. The fishing group had at least one ice auger and seemed to be enjoying the day. After all, it is February and the ice is solid enough to support vehicles, so why not do a little sport fishing for some of those Como carp.

On another note, I encountered two bikers as I strolled the lake. One was riding a bike with very wide tires and seemed to be confident, even on a path that had plenty of ice patches. The other guy was on a more normal bike toiling up a hill on Lexington - a stretch of road that I won't ride even in the summer. Some guys are just more hard core than others. I'm more of a tennis bum, I guess.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


It's not January any more, but February is looking like more of the same. We were blessed with about two and a half inches of what in Utah is known as powder. We know it as more white stuff to shovel. At least it was a little warmer and the sun came out to cast a few shadows. My Tuesday tennis was canceled because of a lack of players, so I took a long walk in the neighborhood. It included a walk on Summit Avenue, past the Guv's mansion and the law school near Victoria. Across the street from T. Paw's current headquarters stands this urban art object, carved from a departed elm tree a few years ago. The owners of the home behind it decided to add some levity to the statement and dressed the wooden lady in a purple sweater. And then last night it snowed on the statue.

While I stood next to "Elma" I took a photo across Summit. That's the Governor's mansion for the great state of Minnesota. Since the political parties of Minnesota are having precinct caucuses tonight to begin the process to choose the next inhabitant of this house, I guess the photo is fitting. I feel a little guilty about skipping the caucuses, but they aren't much fun for me, and I'm not sure I fit with any of the current crop of political philosophies. So I'm sitting this one out.

The rest of the walk was pretty non-eventful. The sidewalks are still mostly unshoveled, but the citizens will get to it soon, I'm convinced. There is not likely to be a snow emergency to plow the streets. This new snow actually improves the quality of the road surfaces by filling in the ruts and smoothing out the bumps.