Thursday, July 26, 2012

USTA codgers

For the first time in a year or so I played in a USTA league tennis match. There is a division in USTA for men over 60 - Super Seniors it's called. I agreed to play on a team of players rated 4.0 tonight at Fort Snelling, a place that I played twice a week all winter. The courts are somewhat different in the summer, because they take the bubble down and play takes place outside. That means that wind is now a factor in play. It's a new team for me, but I've played with many of the players before over the last ten years or so. Tonight my partner, Ahto, and I played against a pretty good team who play out of White Bear Lake, a team of players that often have won the leagues they play in. There are only three teams in this league drawn from all over the Twin Cities. I guess by this age most players have given up tennis and moved on to golf and shuffleboard. The guys that are left are hardcore, but still codgers. It'll take a while to get used to playing with Ahto, but we were competitive before losing 6-4, 6-4. It was windy. It was fun and as I told Ahto as we left the courts, we are all winners just by showing up and competing. Ahto is 66 and agreed immediately. I love this game.

The heat wave has dissipated a bit and I have a few photos that I've taken in the last few days. I've mostly been playing tennis and doing some walking around the neighborhood and some of my favorite parks in the Twin Cities.

My flower planter after being upgraded by the Girl From The North Country (GFTNC) a couple of days ago. The colorful flowers that were originally in the planter were flooded out by a couple of big rainfalls. They look quite a bit better now that there are new colors in the pot.

A single sunflower growing in the neighborhood not far from home.

A native American mask posted near Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, taken in a walk by the falls over the weekend with the GFTNC.

I changed my blog's header photo today. The white heron's image was captured about a year ago as it stood in shallow water in Lake Como.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


It's not a prime number. 1001. But it's a lot of posts. I have a few photos from the last several days while I was taking a break from blogging to commemorate a thousand and now I'm beginning the second thousand. I have some photos from several trips to Como Park, where I often walk for exercise and to appreciate the natural and near natural areas around the lake and the Conservatory.

I caught a bee at work on this orange flower at the butterfly garden near the frog pond at Como.
Some whitish flowers growing outside and near the Como Conservatory.
Three ducks at Como Park, swimming at ease in the summer sun.
It's been hot lately, actually most of the month. Yesterday was a tennis day and even though the thermometer in my car said 97, we played a couple of sets and it was actually fun. It helps if you get hydrated ahead of time and strive to stay hydrated through the whole process. There were seven guys who were willing to spend an hour and a half in the sun and all of them were still feeling pretty well at the end of the day. I walked off feeling well, but I came home to air conditioning, a little snack, and a short nap.

The Olympics begins on Friday. I guess there will be a pretty good tennis tournament at Wimbledon as part of the competition. I'm looking forward to watching some of the competition, hoping that NBC will squeeze some of the good matches into their coverage. I'm planning to watch some of the events on the internet. It is reported that all the events will be available on line. It would be pretty nice if Andy Murray could win the singles, since he's been stymied in his efforts to win Wimbledon in the best of five set format that is used in tennis grand slam events. In the Olympics winning two of three sets is enough.

I enclose a video that I encountered on the Discover Magazine site.   It's one of the earliest uploads of non-text data to the internet - purportedly.  It's a bevy of beauties from CERN singing a do-wop song to the scientist boy friends in their lives who prefer their collider to them.  It also has a section featuring Cray computers from the early nineties when I was doing software for the same machines.  Very nice memories for me.

[7*11*13 = 1001]

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

One thousand

It's time that I blogged again. I've been short of material (that usually means my photos are of below par quality) and not much really exciting has been happening. But I'm invigorated by Mr and Mrs Smith's trip to Paris and the prospects for some good blog reading, and by the fact that I just realized that this is my 1000th blog entry - the first was May 3, 2007.

It's been a hot few weeks and this week was a kind of reprieve from the 90's and 100's of the early part of the month. I've been to Como just walking around (JWA) and have a few pictures of the place where I take quite a few photos. The Conservatory is pictured from a somewhat different angle than usual, on the slope down toward the frog pond. I guess frog pond is a good enough name for it - there is a stone frog in the pool, or maybe it's concrete.

A duck on the stone frog's head.

It was 88 today, with reasonable humidity. The usual tennis crowd gathered at Marie courts and we played some tennis. I've been somewhat off my game lately, I think because of the difficulty of dealing with the heat and humidity and staying adequately hydrated. Today worked better because I made a conscious effort to get ahead of the water need by drinking a couple of large glasses of water before leaving the house for the courts. It seemed to work and my level of fatigue seemed to be less than during the height of the heat wave. I think I'll stick with the regimen for a while to see where it leads.

I spent some of the morning watching the 10th stage of the Tour de France. It was a mountain stage and Thomas Voeckler, the popular French cyclist, won the stage. There has been some talk about doping again in this year's race, but so far the unexpected strong riders haven't been caught, if indeed they're doping. It was a good race, but it's less fun when it seems like there is cheating going on.

I don't think that there is any doping in professional tennis. But then I didn't think that there was any doping in baseball for a long time and it turned out that there was quite a bit of it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Prairie Grass

The heat of summer has arrived. The Strib weather guy says that we'll be in the mid 90's for highs most of the week, topping out at 100 later in the week - maybe Friday. It sounds warm, but we have electricity, a commodity that apparently is lacking in parts of the East, where they're having a similar heat wave. So far, I've been maintaining a normal schedule, even playing tennis in the late afternoon. On Saturday, we had seven codgers at Marie Park in the morning, all well into their sixties or more. The next test is Monday afternoon.

I have some photos from late last week which I took on various walks with the GFTNC around more natural areas in the city. We checked out Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary, a place where the Prairie Princess helped transform to a prairie with ambitions to turn into an oak savannah. The prairie grass looks very healthy and has a much different look from the usual lawns of other parks. The oak trees are doing pretty well, too.

On another day on a hike around Lake Como with the previously mentioned GFTNC, we encountered this bird sitting in a tree. I haven't posted a photo of this variety of bird before, so I took a chance. I think it's a Carolina Wren.

The Prairie Princess is just a month away from her field work trip to Africa. She'll be spending five months in Tanzania, at the Equator, then hopefully coming to Minnesota, home, for Christmas. Lately she's been going by a nickname of Daughter of Norway, but may have to temporarily change to something more African.