Friday, September 28, 2012

Last Friday in the week

It's nearly the end of September and thus the end of the third quarter of the year. My tennis log is filling up, but I've been putting off calculating and summing up. That part of it will wait for another day. After tomorrow's session I will have played on 14 of September's days - not bad for having spent a week in Michigan and a couple of weekends in the northland. I guess I'm satisfied with that.

 Today at Marie Courts we had a foursome, including the visitor from Arizona who was pictured here yesterday. After playing two sets in nearly perfect, windless weather, one of the guys reminded us that we'd decided to go to Summit Brewery in St Paul on the first day that they could legally sell and serve beer at the brewery. There used to be a Minnesota statute forbidding that practice, but it was changed in the last tumultuous session of the legislature. Summit brews its beer in a business park near highway 35E and Shephard Road. We sat in their patio, had a beer (Summit Extra Pale Ale), and reanalyzed our tennis styles among other idle chit-chat. It was a pleasant way to spent one of the last really nice days of September.

It's been a hard week of tennis and I think I need a couple of days off to recover. Next week will be a bit slower and probably a bit more varied.

The trees across the pond from the tennis courts at Marie Park are changing color. The chlorophyl is retreating leaving only the colored sugary cells.

I had a phone conversation with the Prairie Princess today. She's arrived at her field work station in Amani Nature Preserve, but it appears to be without internet. So I guess she may only be reachable by telephone until sometime in December. Unless she finds a way to get to the internet. I checked with my long distance phone provider and they quoted a price of $6.48 a minute to talk to Tanzania without a special plan. They had a cheaper rate to sign up for ($5 a month plus $.49 per minute when calling). Even that seems pretty pricey. I'm sure going to miss iChat and Skype over the next two and a half months.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Tennis, Tennis

It was another really nice day in the Saintly City. It was a day custom made for a bit of tennis, and luckily, my old tennis buddy and nemesis is in town for the upcoming Hamline Homecoming and various alumni activities. That Hamline stuff isn't until next week, so today we went to Linwood Park and smacked some balls at each other. I guess we're getting older and maybe not quite as quick on our feet, but we got around the courts pretty well and managed to play two full sets of our favorite game. Then to prove that we were there, we took pictures and here I am posting a photo of Rich after a bit of competition.  He even worked up a bit of perspiration.

It's a two session day. I'm off to play a little competitive tennis in a bit with Jerry and the hard core girls. I guess that might be called re-tennis.

Life is good.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Great grandparents

Sometimes I like to get out the old photos and look at them, maybe think about how much different the really old times were about than what is now before us. I have three photos of G.L. Jones - grandma Melissa's dad - from various times in his life. He lived a long and varied life, blacksmith, soldier in the Civil War, newspaper editor, father, husband, and much else that I'm not cognizant of. He lived until he was 97 and died in an old soldier's home in Washington state.

George L Jones (January 26, 1834 - April 1, 1931) taken about 1880. (I'm guessing)

George L Jones in 1919. He was 85 at the time of the photo.

George L Jones as an even older man (1930??)

I have only this picture of Jennie Jones. Her real name was Sarah, but she wrote for the newspapers as Jennie. She died in 1883 at the age of 43, mere months after the birth of her youngest daughter, Melissa Sylvia Jones, my own grandma.

Jennie Jones (March 1, 1840 - June 9, 1883).

Extra added details (10:50 Wednesday night):

This bit gets some of G.L. Jones' life up to about 1902 when he was 68.

"G. L. Jones was born in Cassville, Grant Co., Wisconsin., in 1834, and moved to Menomonie, Dunn County, in 1852. In 1858 he went to Texas with five other young men. At the breaking out of civil war his companions entered the rebel army but he made his escape to the north leaving several hundred dollars worth of property which he lost. He enlisted as a private in the union army, served three years and was mustered out an orderly sergeant. He survives eleven relatives who served in the union army. After the war he located at Bloomer, Chippewa Co., Wisconsin., and carried on a blacksmith and wagon shop until 1880 when his health failed and he engaged in newspaper work. He owned and edited newspapers in Bloomer, Chippewa Falls and Shell Lake, this state, and always retained his individuality, without bowing to party, church, rings, or bossism. It is his especial pride that during his twenty years as a newspaper man he never did any saloon advertising and never voted for saloon licenses. He sold his paper at Shell Lake over two years ago and moved onto a homestead in Burnett county. One son, John E. Jones, is not yet weaned from newspaper life. He is editor of the Washburn Times and also postmaster at that place. Another son, E. James Jones, has abandoned his trade as a printer for the delights of homesteading adjoining his father's place. A daughter, Miss Melissa, is one of the popular teachers of the county. A step-daughter, Mrs. Amy Huth, lives a few miles east of him, and with his children thus close around him he is spending the happiest days of his life. He has great faith in the future of Burnett county and is ever ready to help the home seeker secure a place to his liking. His post office address is Weblake, Burnett county, Wisconsin. He has an excellent opportunity to engage in the raising of cranberries and at the present time the spring brooks on his farm are filled with hundreds of speckled trout. The visitor who stops there for a few hours wonders how any man can live in a great city after having seen how Jones and his family enjoy the pleasures of backwoods life."

page 118. - Official Report of Burnett County Board of Immigration, Concerning the Resources of Burnett County, Wisconsin. 1902. The Journal Print, Grantsburg, Wisconsin.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Shadow tennis

After a nice weekend, most of it spent somewhere near Grand Rapids, I came home for a full week's schedule of tennis. Today there were five mostly retired gents at Marie Park. Five is a hard number to work into a tennis rotation, but we've come to this scheme [why isn't scheme spelled with a "k"?] where the fifth wheel rotates onto the court after every complete game, so that each gent sits out every fifth game. The server is always on the south end of the court so that he doesn't have to look into the sun, and we keep score of the games as though it was north side vs south side. Today the south (always the server) won 11-2. Then Tennis Dennis had to go home and we played a set of men's doubles.   Did I say that it was an absolutely beautiful day?

That's what I'm going to call shadow tennis.

On the way home from my exotic tennis session, I noticed once again that it's political funny season and lawn signs are springing up everywhere. I drove past a sign in Mendota heights that screamed "Jesse!" at passersby. "Who is that?" one wondered. I slowed and saw that it was an old lawn sign for Jesse Ventura and Mae Schunk for Minnesota governor and lieutenant governor from 1998, when Jesse unexpectedly was elected guv of Minnesota. I guess whoever put up the sign is nostalgic for the good old days. I'm sorry that I didn't have my camera ready, but I may go back for photographic backup.

The trees are getting closer to turning bright colors again. This little body of water is somewhere between Nashwauk and Keewatin and some of the surrounding trees are surrendering to their colorful fate.  The equinox has passed and the harvest moon is expected this weekend.

Friday, September 21, 2012


My memory is not good enough to know if I've posted this photo before. I looked around a little in the blog history and couldn't find it. I even tried the google image search to no avail. So I'm posting this photo of the circa 1930 G.E. Miller family including Dutch, the dog. It's the whole family except the eldest son, George (Bob), who likely was behind the camera. Does everyone know which one is Jane? Charles? Tom? Betty? John, Melissa? The old guy is George Eugene, of course.

It was my third straight day of indoor tennis. It's actually pretty nice to be playing inside. There's no wind and the sun is never in your eyes when you serve and when you hit overhead smashes. We played at Fort Snelling today. The thing that has been added to the indoor courts in about the last year is a new set of lines painted on the court. The game has been modified so that little kids have an easier time mastering the mechanics. They have a shorter court, so that the serve has a much better chance of getting over the net. There are a few other changes for little kids - shorter and lighter rackets, and softer balls that don't bounce as high and that can't be blasted so hard that little people can't hit them back.

The main reason we played tennis inside today is that the weather turned noticeably colder. Some of the weather wizards are predicting an inch or so of snow in the state this weekend, but probably mostly in the north. Tomorrow is the equinox - the day that daylight and night time are supposedly the same length of time. Because I know that light hangs around quite a while after sunset, the actual equality of light and dark is somewhat in doubt.

The sumacs are turning red.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A trip to the DVS

These are the current tennis nets at Hamline on the courts that I used to play in 1961-1965. The courts used to be concrete, but they have been upgraded in the 47 years since I left.  They even have supplied nice white benches for the players to sit during the change of sides on the odd numbered games.

I went to the DVS today to get my driver's license renewed. It's a once every four years thing, but it's always just a bit stressful. I always wonder if I'll still be able pass the eye test, and then there is the dreadful photo that they take of you that you have to carry around to show people for the next four years. I got a pleasant enough guy to handle the renewal process. We even joked a bit about the eye test and the photo. He said that he was jealous of my ability to read the top line of the eye test contraption. He has to wear glasses. I commiserated. And he let me look at the photo and gave me editorial control. It was digital and he'd take another one if I didn't like the first. The photo wasn't so bad, and my ego has long ago recognized that I'm no longer 30 years old. I went with the first try. That's done. I'm glad that piece of stressful activity is in the rear view mirror.

There was tennis tonight.  Indoor season has begun.  I played at Wooddale with Jerry and the hard core girls in a continuation of the mixed doubles tussles that we've been having the last few years.  It was competitive and fun and I realized again how much I appreciate that I'm able yet to play well enough to keep them willing to try again and again to beat me.  They're successful enough of the time and it's always a struggle until the last set finishes.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

My tax money at work

I guess autumn has begun to invade this land. The temperature dropped to 43 this morning and rose briefly to 61 in the "heat" of the day. I turned my home heating system back on.

I visited Como Park for a rest day walk and a chance to explore a bit. I like to see what kind of changes the powers that be are making to my favorite park. I walked part way around the lake and then thought I'd go to the Conservatory and see what sort of flower show was in session. The signs suggested a summer flower show and I was curious to see what they had.

There were a couple of changes on the way over Lexington and past the labyrinth. They have finished restoring the pool area just past the Lexington pedestrian bridge. For many years the pool was dry and the concrete was cracked. This summer enough money was available to get the pool into the condition in the photo below. It seems to be a big improvement.

And then before reaching the Conservatory I came across a sign announcing the restoration of the Friedrich Schilling statue that greets people as they enter the park. It's been there since 1905, and it has apparently fallen deeply into disrepair. They have a restoration specialist working on making it good again. The specialists have taken it off its pedestal. Here is photo of the statue last year.  Schiller was an important German philosopher, poet and playwright who died in 1805.

There was also work going on on expanding the Japanese garden near the Conservatory using Ordway money, but that won't be done until the spring of 2013.

The Conservatory flower show was pretty good but anticlimactic.  The flowers - roses, hibiscus, sunflowers, etc - are still in bloom outside.  I have included one photo anyhow.

September is more than half gone and we're just a few days from the equinox again (September 22).  Soon enough I'll be pining for sweet September.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Home is good, too

Unky Herb and I are safely back in the saintly city. He arrived about 9:30. I haven't calculated his average speed, but he didn't indicate any speeding tickets. The GFTNC also is safely back in the north country with the good dog, Magster.  I'm happy to be home after a lovely week by the big lake with Santini and company.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Tunnel Park

We've been to Tunnel Park about every day since arriving. It's a short walk to the north and there's the dune to climb. On the other side of the dune there is a place to run down the dune, a place that is often the destination site of our treks up the beach.

Sometimes we take the tunnel, which is the source of the name of the park. It's a nice tunnel and it makes getting past the dune a lot easier.

The beach side of the tunnel.

It was a beautiful day and we had a walk north past Tunnel Park. There was a group of about 30 high school athletes on the beach when we got there. I think they were football players. They were running in a circle about 50 feet in circumference and the coaches were yelling at them to not give up, and to work hard because their rivals were surely working harder than they were. They continued to run in the small circle for at least a half hour as we walked by, up the beach and returned. When we went by again, there were a couple of the weaker members of the team who were lying on their backs holding onto cramped leg muscles. I haven't seen this particular conditioning drill before, but I'm not adding it to my regime. Maybe it's good for team building. It was just an odd occurrence on an otherwise beautiful, ordinary day somewhere east of Milwaukee.

One last time.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Big Red

We had three nice walks on the world's nicest beach. The middle one was what has long been known as the death march, a nice southerly saunter to the lighthouse in Holland State Park. It took the usual amount of time, but in September the park is nearly deserted.   The red flags indicating dangerous surf were up and swimming was "forbidden." Unky Herb, GFTNC and I made the trip today. Big Red looks about like it has every time I've trudged down the beach to see it.  The dreaded pink color from the spring has been overlaid with brick red.

Today was pretty much a cooking day, I guess. The GFTNC baked rye rolls from scratch (and flour) and Santini made Lillie's Red Devils Food cake.  And we had spaghetti dinner with Nancy, Brad, and the grandkids.

After dinner we made our usual Friday night trek to Tunnel Park. It was nearly sunset by the time we reached the park, but most of the willing made a run down the dune. Herb ran down a few times and ran back up a few times.  TJ and Nicki, and even Nancy had a trip down the dune run, too.

The end of another day, Santini turns to face the camera as the sun sets in the west.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"I blog for comments."

Here's Santini, wearing her newest and truest tee shirt, which expresses a sentiment she penned a few weeks ago on her blog, a sentiment which was turned into a wearable quote by the GFTNC. I think Santini likes it.

It looked like rain was going to overtake us today, so we took a tour of Hope College and the lake area around the authentic wind mill in town.  It didn't result in much in the order of dramatic photos, but we got some exercise and a chance to see where the tulips grow around here in the spring before tulip time.

We then went to the store for ingredients and came back to the mountain for some serious cooking, followed by some tasty food.   PW cooked a pork tenderloin roast, roasted sweet potatoes and a batch of popovers.  Unky Herb made one of his delectable salads with lots of "flavor edges" and we ate what we could and saved the rest.  There will be leftovers for several more days.

The rain has not yet made it across the big lake, but it's still pretty cloudy.

Santini took this photo with my camera a day or so ago, and it's on the beach on the way to Tunnel Park. The Prairie Princess has named this beach the most perfect in the world - better than any ocean front beach and possessed of the very best sand - the sand that sings when you slide step through at the requisite velocity.

This next shot is from our trek to Kirk Park yesterday. As you can see there were a few, actually quite a few steps to climb to get to the good parts. This is the second of the two steepest and longest of the flights of stairs.

This photo from a day or so ago was an experiment in reflections. It's a shot of a perfectly good sunset reflected in the front windows of Santini's mountain abode with an outline of the photographer getting the rabbit ears treatment from PW.

It was another day well spent in southwest Michigan.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Sometimes when you least expect it, a photo will just jump into your lens. Tonight on a trip to downtown Holland, we got so caught up in the sites near the waterfront that we were too late to get back to the mountain for the sunset. I fully expected it to be the best sunset of the week, but we stayed around downtown to catch the sunset from a new location. As I was about to snap a photo of a really nice sunset, a boat towing a water skier came into the frame, and, just as I snapped the photo, the skier jumped and my camera caught this shot. I think my career is made.

It was a nice day and it's only possible to abbreviate the activities. I'm actually reasonably knackered right now. This morning GFTNC, Unky Herb and I took a trek around Kirk Park. I had been there on a bike some years ago, but the hiking path was a different experience - up and down a sandy trail, lots of stair steps and green trees.  It was a nice place to exercise our legs and view the scenery.   Then back to the mountain for lunch - home made soup and leftover Chinese food from the Great Wall.

Next an afternoon hitting tennis balls for about an hour with Herb at the James Street tennis courts.  We got back to the highlands in time to fix vittles - some of Herb's Chinese eggplant and ginger with turkey burgers and salad.

Then, since I had a hankering for the aroma of fresh pickles, we went to the other side of Lake Macatawa.   There are lots of things there that I hadn't seen before - statues and parks and strolling citizens.  I have photos from there, too, but three seems like enough for this venue.

The GFTNC was standing among a group of solid citizens who immigrated to this part of Michigan quite a long time ago.

During our walk along Holland's downtown, we came dangerously close to the Heinz pickle factory, reputedly the largest pickle factory in the world. The aroma was out of this world - dill pickle heaven.

It was a beautiful day in southwest Michigan. I only wish the Prairie Princess could have been here for the fun, and also probably the aroma of pickles being processed.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Patriot's Day in Michigan

The school children at Waukazoo Elementary School do this every September 11. Each class sets some American flags into the ground near the school to remember the victims of the terrorist act in 2001 that took down the World Trade Center towers. There must have been about 500 of them. We stopped here on the way back from a walk by Lake Macatawa early this afternoon.  It's a nice way to commemorate the event that took place eleven years ago today.

PW and I went to Howard Dunton Park to walk about, see some new territory, and perhaps catch a whiff of the pickle factory across the lake.  Unky Herb and Santini took the opportunity for a bike ride through the countryside.  Dunton Park is one park I had not visited before, but it was a pleasant experience walking along Lake Macatawa on quite a windy afternoon.

On windy days like today the gulls face into the wind, even when the wind is coming from the Heinz pickle factory in Holland.  That's a huge pile of coal in the background that will be used by the local utility to generate electricity.

After a dinner of take-out Chinese vittles we were able to get most of the tribe to take a walk to Tunnel Park.  It was my third trip there in the last two days.  The trek to Tunnel Park got us to the top of the dune where all the running up and down can be done.

Most of the same group clowning at the top of the dune at Tunnel Park.

There was some running up and down the dune and even a sprawling face first dive by Nikki, without damage, before we made our way back to the cottage on the mountain where we meant to watch another sunset.  Even I, as the oldest member of the group, ran down and then up the dune again as I had earlier promised.  The run up was quite a bit harder than anticipated, but it encouraged Nikki, Nancy, and T.J to duplicate my run.  No one got hurt.

We made it to the deck in time for sunset and for some photos.  The sunset photos were pretty good, but I don't think as good as last night's.  I left them on the cutting room floor this time.  Instead I like this shot of our hostess sitting on the deck just a few minutes after sunset.

It was a fine day in southwest Michigan on one of my many vacations from retirement. I'll be playing tennis again soon.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Murray wins US Open

Sunset comes every night, but sometimes you can't see it, perhaps because of cloud cover, but sometimes it comes after one of the nicest days of the month, or of the year, and possibly any year at all. This is a new venue for my relentless urge to take photos as the sun goes down. We - the four of us, Unky Herb, Santini, the Girl From the North Country (GFTNC) and I - were at Holland State Park, just down the lake from here. We went to check out the paint job on Big Pink (which has reverted to Big Red after a new paint job), to show GFTNC the state park in September, and maybe take a shot of Old Sol as he set in the west. The pier provided a bit of extra detail to the photo and the jet trails in the sky some extra finery.

Photo taken by Unky Herb just before sunset at Holland State Park. Big Red can be viewed in the immediate background.  The pink has been replaced by a deep red as one can see.

Last night at Tunnel Park we had the traditional evening trek to the park and stopped just inside the park to get a wind swept photo of the group. Even the photographer's shadow can be seen. We're all in the photo. We have been to the top of the dune there and both Unky Herb and I have done the traditional run down the dune. Herb also ran back up the dune, a feat that I may try to replicate later in the week.

We've mostly stayed on the mountain so far this trip. We took a trip to the grocers for excitement and entertainment, but returned for a home cooked meal and then the previously reported journey to the big park for the sunset. It's been an interesting two days so far, good food and lots of laughing and talking. We had so much fun that I forgot about the US Open finals until it was already over. It's pretty nice to see that Andy Murray won, the first British man to win a major since 1936. I think he would have rather won at Wimby, but at least he has his first major, and has a somewhat better chance to be the first Scotsman to win Wimby.