Sunday, October 30, 2011

Leaves aplenty

It's a quandary. The anniversary of the blizzard of '91, when about two feet of snow fell on my backyard, is tomorrow. I have trees with leaves still attached left in my yard and in adjacent yards. Today, I decided to begin the process of gathering the leaves and bagging them up for the recycle site. I know I'll have to do it again, but the process passed for exercise, and I was able to squeeze off a couple of middling photos for the blog. There are still leaves on other trees, as I said before, including these colorful, but reluctant bits of foliage.

This is the main pile from the sugar maple in the back yard.

Halloween is tomorrow. Good haunting to all.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Paucity of Pumpkin Pics

Halloween is just three days away and I hadn't posted a pumpkin photo yet. Nor have any of my favorite blogs. I'm getting into the feel of the season with today's photo of a jack o'lantern (nee pumpkin) sitting in a window about a block from here. The neighborhood is working on decorating the porches and yards in anticipation of the yearly celebration of "boo." There may be more photos of good displays as the weekend moves on.

The weather was decent today, at least for sauntering around outside. Those of you who use velocipede's to get around probably needed to cover up any exposed skin or risk frostbite from the arrival of windchill.

There was tennis at Fort Snelling again this early afternoon. I'm starting to wear down for the week, but the competition was still entertaining and I was able to keep up with the other geezer guys. One more day of competition for the week and for the month tomorrow at Wooddale.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


It seems like it's been a strange fall season. I was thinking about the range of colored leaves as I hiked around the neighborhood this afternoon in my warmup exercise for evening tennis. There are a lot of trees that haven't changed colors, yet there are some very bright reddish orange maples that are very noticeable in the area. And there are the ash trees that gave up their leaves weeks ago. Some of the trees that are still green are maples. And some oaks. In this photo from east of me on Fairmount there is a flaming reddish maple in front, but behind it is another maple which is very green. And another thing.  And it hasn't frozen yet in my neighborhood. My tomato plants are still exuding green fruit.

Here's a whole block of reticent changers. I don't know what they're waiting for unless it's perhaps a temperature in the 20's.

So here it is the 27th of October and after tonight's tennis action, I've played 31 complete sets of tennis this month. That beats the previous high of 30 set in January and again in March of this year. And I've got two more days of tennis scheduled. It's been a busy month.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fort Snelling

I had a 2 o'clock appointment with some tennis players, but I got an early start and stopped by the fort at Fort Snelling to have a look at the river and to maybe take a picture or two. A lot of the trees up on the hill above the river have lost their leaves, but a few oaks are just now coming into their own. This one had lost some of its leaves but still retains some nice red color.

I walked to the chapel at Fort Snelling, too. It's one of the oldest religious buildings in the state. In the yard outside the chapel there is a lonely little grave of the first white child born in Minnesota - at least according to the head stone. She was Elizabeth Snelling, and she died in her infancy at age 13 months and is buried here. A little piece of Minnesota history.

After the walk, I made my way to Fred Wells Tennis Center at Fort Snelling for an hour and a half of tennis - nearly two complete sets - with the usual gang of geezers. The ages of the geezers today - 72, 70, 69, 66. A total of 277.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Still October

It was a drab sort of day today, but yesterday was bright and shiny. I took a picture of a maple about a block from home on my way to the drugstore to buy drugs ... I mean vitamins. There are still some trees that haven't decided to change to their brighter colors, even some varieties of maple. And the oaks. It's sill pretty around here.

I'm also posting some older photos, just because I scanned them in and find them entertaining. It's nice to look at photos of people from more than 50 years ago and still be able to recognize them. These two young looking people are still younger than me. You know who you are.

This is one of the few photos I have of the original Tag, our cocker spaniel - springer spaniel mix dog of our childhood. He was a golden color as I recall, but the photo comes from the era before I could afford color film. And the car is a classic, too. I think it's a Pontiac from the 1950's sometime.

No tennis today, but tomorrow is on, and it may be nice enough to play outside. I'm hoping for one or two more days of outdoors friendly weather before the snow flies.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday in October

It was a beautiful autumn afternoon and since I hadn't blogged for a while and since I needed to get into nature again, I took my walk-around camera and went to Minnehaha Park to roam around. I parked in my usual free parking spot and went over to see the falls. And since I hadn't been to Longfellow garden in a bit I ambled over there to see how the autumn was progressing. I know that the Prairie Princess, who likes to be known as the Daughter of Norway these days, would like to see how the native grasses are getting along.  And so did I.  The view from down by the creek looking up the hill towards the old, deteriorating statue of Longfellow was nice enough to open today's posting. The grasses have browned, but since the first freeze hasn't hit the center of the city yet, there were still flowers and green leaves on the trees.

The creek (Minnehaha) flows under Hiawatha and to the falls. The water is low because of the paucity of rain in the area, but it's a quiet comforting sight as it flows through the tunnel.

I walked south, following the creeks path, but from up above the flood plain. As I neared the bridge to the Veteran's Center, I encountered some wild turkeys walking in the underbrush, bravely and brashly showing themselves to possible predators. I guess they weren't very frightened of me. The quantity of wildlife within the city limits is often a surprise to me as I saunter through the parks and wild areas in the Twin Cities.

And, there was Thursday night mixed doubles at Wooddale. We played a couple of sets with a lot of interesting, competitive sets - the hardcore girls, plus Jerry and me - 6-4, 6-3. Then I went to Yang's Chinese food restaurant for some of that succulent Singapore rice noodles.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cloudy fall day

The autumn has been odd here in the Saintly City. The first frost has not yet come to this part of the city and the tomatoes and many of the fall flowers still persist. On the street light a couple of houses down the street, flowers that should have frozen by now continue to beautify the neighborhood.  Morning glories?

A block east of here a young maple tree has decided to turn scarlet and begin to drop its leaves. I think it must be reacting to the shorter day light hours. The ash trees, of course, have dropped their leaves, the quitters.

I'm going to Wooddale and play some indoor tennis.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


It rained on St Paul today. It was a lot of rain, even some hail, and moved the tennis session inside to Fort Snelling, where it was dry, but a little noisy from the rain beating on the bubble. The tennis was fun, but the weather made the acquisition of suitable photos for blogging just too hard. These are from last weekend.

On a walk at Crosby Farm, these curious deer were close enough to get into a photographic frame. There were three of them, a doe and two first year fawns. They stayed around long enough to get their photos taken then thought better of the situation and bounded off.

And a slightly larger herd, but this time of Segway "vehicles." They were practicing their skills in the area around the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis. I caught them gathering together for a conference of some kind. You don't often see a herd of Segways of this size even in the wild. It might have been these guys.

The signs of autumn are growing more numerous in Minnesota. It has been a nice long spell of above normal weather, but soon the kingdom of winter will begin to prevail.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Too windy for outdoors tennis

My favorite sugar maple, the one in my back yard has turned orangish, and before the wind came up today looked like this. I'll have to post an "after" photo soon to show the damage 40 mph winds can do to showy color.

It was too windy to play tennis outside, so we took our geezer games and went under the bubble at Fort Snelling. Indoor tennis is inherently better tennis because the conditions are perfect. We played 90 minutes of pretty good tennis and left tired, but feeling somewhat younger than our respective advanced ages. I suspect that most of the outdoor tennis is finished for the year - except for whatever exceptionally nice days are left this month.

I'm also continuing to post these old photos - the ones that Santini gave me over a month ago. These are from the 1940's before the world discovered color photography.

The first ones is from circa 1949, judging from an estimate of Gino's age.  It was taken at Grandpa Richard's farm in Wisconsin and includes Dad and his kids: Gino, Jimmy, Tommy, and Sylvi.  Notice the giant stack of wood in the background.  That stack is fuel for the winter to heat the house and for the cook stove.  The size of the pile makes me suspect the picture was taken in the autumn. Sylvi has flowers. Dandelions?

An older picture from July, 1945 or so it says on the back of the photo.  It's posed in front of home in Webster, I think, and shows the kids in the family at the time - Jimmy, Sylvi, and Tommy.  It's before the arrival of the youngest child - Gene.  Notice my fancy socks.

The same group, rearranged, on the same date with the same socks. Tommy's socks match mine. I think all the clothes are home made by Mom.

The last one is perhaps 1946, judging from the suspected age of the youngest kid - Sylvi. She's wearing a pretty fancy knitted hat, most likely home made. It was taken outside on Grandpa's farm land, I think, across County U from the barn, near Uncle Marvin's cabin, where we lived for a while. I recognize the grove of birch trees.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Eighty-eight degrees

It was 88 degrees at 2 pm yesterday for my afternoon tennis session with the geezer guys. The sun was high in the sky and in the eyes of whomever was serving or trying to hit overheads. We were competitive anyhow, and we played to a tie breaker. I went home knackered and hungry. It's clear that weather that hot uses up whatever reserves one may have. I picked up Unky Herb from the airport later. He was returning from his New England trip to "peep" at the maple leaves as they turn scarlet. He has an amazing number of photos. We have a crop of crimson maples appearing here, too. The peak of the season is within days of showing up and within hours of disappearing if we get a big wind. These two maple leaves fell from a tree in front of the guv's mansion, and I posed them on some nearby very green grass.

The photos were taken on my morning recovery walk in the neighborhood. This maple is about a block from my house and on Chatsworth. It's right in the middle of its change of color, representative of the neighborhood in general.

I've been keeping a log of my tennis activities for the year, and I have some numbers through the first three quarters of the year. Through September 30 I had played 209 full sets of tennis and a bunch of partials for a total of 2,245 games of tennis. I estimate about six points a game, so there have been about 13,470 points so far this year. No wonder my knees and ankles ache.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I was walking around Lake Como yesterday. As often happens when people are within earshot, I caught a snippet of a conversation which surprised me and made me chuckle a bit. I wrote it down. And I wondered what question had elicited this response. One woman said to her companion, "No, but we got rid of the ferret." There will be a prize for the best question that causes this response. Maybe a pet ferret.

The plants in the Twin Cities are feeling stress from a very dry September and yesterday's 85 degree temperatures. And it's autumn. There are interesting things happening to the vegetation.

Milkweeds are splitting apart and exposing silky seeds.

There are still some flowers blooming at the butterfly garden over by the Conservatory.  Poppies, I think.

And the maple trees are doing their best to turn that effervescent orange-red that means the peak of leaf viewing has arrived. I think they're being done in by the arid air, but they're trying.

I'm playing some tennis outside today. It's October fifth and its going to be 80 degrees. There appear to be some positive effects of global warming. I just hope we don't pay for this good weather with a winter like last year.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Autumn comes to the north land

I haven't posted many autumn photos, but it is clear that the fall is falling. These photos are from last weekend in northern Minnesota, where the leaves are a bit ahead of St Paul's autumn display. The first photo was taken at the aptly named Surprise Lake, where the fall colors are reflected on a mirror smooth lake surface. I think that most of the southern population of Minnesota traveled north for the weekend, filling the roads near Duluth and the north shore of Lake Superior with leaf gazers. Surprise Lake is somewhat north of Grand Rapids on the road to Big Fork.

Some maple trees really get inspired this time of year, showing a flare for the dramatic.

There are also quite a few impressive red pines in the north. This path on the way to Chase Point in Scenic State Park has a number of large red (also known as Norway) pines growing among the rocks. There is a different look and smell to the forests in the north, and a distantly familiar feel to its isolation. Autumn continues it's slow invasion of Minnesota from the north.

There was tennis last night, and in actuality this is supposed to be a tennis blog. I played a USTA Seniors mixed doubles match at a tennis club on 98th Street in Bloomington. It was a fun match, decided in the third set tie breaker, yet again. My partner and I managed to eke out a 10-8 win in the ten-point tie breaker and we finished the season with a team victory to wrap up third place in the league. We went home singing the famous victory line, "We're number three." There will be no playoffs and no playoff pressure. That seems to be a very good result.