Friday, August 30, 2013


It was a nice enough day to play some tennis this morning. It's the third day since my return from the big lake that I've hit some balls, and the coolest of the three. The Prairie Princess needed some exercise and wanted to swat a few, so this morning we went to the Linwood Courts and swatted a few. I didn't get any photos so I'm using this photo of TT (me) hitting a forehand at the James Street courts in Holland last week. I wasn't dressed in blue today, but I was hitting to the same recent returnee to USA.  And using the same racket.

The Prairie Princess is getting back into American life. She has a new cell phone and has been to a couple of well supplied American grocery stores, and Target. This afternoon we took a walk in Crosby Park, around Upper Lake and past a lot of North American plants that she hadn't seen in about two years. She still knows the names of more of them than I do. Like the cup plant.  It was warm, but nice to be out among the trees and wild things.  We even saw a humming bird and a monarch butterfly.  

A photo from the Zooniverse site from the Serengeti. They sent it to me as reward for giving them money and helping out with an on-line project to identify African animals in photos taken by motion activated cameras in the Serengeti. The project is part of a University of Minnesota graduate students' study of animal movement and populations over time in the Serengeti. They have enlisted the power of the internet to examine the millions of photos taken over six seasons of the project.

It's the Labor Day weekend. I guess it started today. There will be a big party in Pengilly to recognize 120 years of life - a double birthday party. So I wish a happy birthday to Steve and his mom, the North Country Woman.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

More family

Mark and Peggy arrived this afternoon in time for some dinner and a walk to Tunnel Park. UH and PP went to Nancy's for a boat ride and dinner in Grand Haven. After they got back and shortly before sunset, a subset of the group had the traditional amble up the beach to Tunnel Park and a chance to ogle the tourists. We were hoping that there might perhaps be a wedding party on the beach, like there was yesterday, but there was not. I don't think it's likely to get wedding parties two nights in a row. The ambling group, less the photographer (me), is pictured below.
We had another of these again this evening. Perhaps the best sunset of the day. The lake and the sun again combine to give us a beautiful evening.
While walking on the beach with NCW earlier, we encountered a curious stairway. It looks like it stops at a point below the top of the hill. That seems like a bad plan. Santini thinks that there may have been a collapse of the top part and the pieces toted away. I have no better explanation.

Friday, August 23, 2013


It was a beautiful day and we went to the James Street tennis courts to hit a few balls. Unky Herb, the Prairie Princess, the North Country Woman and me, Tennis Tousan. As it happened, completely randomly, the kids and I all showed up in similar costume - sky blue shirts and black pants. It looked pretty attractive, so NCW took a few photos and this is the best one. Then we played some tennis and took some more photos. It was fun running around on the courts hitting tennis balls, so we stayed for an hour and a half and I, for one, was a little worn down by the end of the time, but really glad that I played.

Prairie Princess hitting a forehand.

Unky Herb in action.

Later in the day NCW and I had a walk on the beach, down towards Big Red, on a very pleasant day and when we returned watched for a while as PP, OSLO, and Nikki played in the big lake. The temperature of the water was reputed to be 70ยบ.

The summer eating festivities continued again today. Santini made some more brownies and some blueberry cobbler, and we consumed most of it after our take-out dinner from the Great Wall - Chinese vittles.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Baking and Photography

It rained a lot of the day, so we mostly hung out, baked, and cooked food. The Prairie Princess made a blueberry-peach pie. NCW made some tasty rye buns. Santini made blueberry muffins and chili. I made guacamole. Here's PP wearing an apron that she got from Santini and is sending a photo to her New Zealand friend in Norway. It came in handy as she mixed flour and butter for the pie crust.

We took a walk in the evening after the rain passed. We almost always walk north on the beach to Tunnel Park, near the time that the sun begins to set. There was a group of new students - probably from Hope - having a friend building activity at the beach. They are getting younger and younger every year. The sky had cleared and it looks like we're in for a stretch of pretty nice weather.

Unky Herb asked me to try to get a photo of him on a bench with the sun setting behind him. The profile is his, the photographer me, the camera his. We were at the top of the dune at Tunnel Park somewhere near the structure I call the parthenon.

It was sunset at Tunnel Park and we were having some fun with the photographic equipment. It was a beautiful sunset after a rainy day and it seemed like it needed a little extra pizzazz. It took only three tries to get this one. Photo by Unky Herb.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Farmer's Market

A trip to the farmer's market yielded ears of corn; sweet, tender yellow ears; tomatoes, large, red, sweet beef eaters; peaches; onions; leeks; green beans; cucumbers; and a new variety of plums, unsampled before, at least by me. Then to D & W grocers for brats, mushrooms, and tent poles. The carry out guy was very friendly, asking where we were from and saying that he'd like very much to visit the Mall of America. I told him that I liked it, too, the first few times I'd been, but it's now old hat and filled with quite a few too many humans.

We stopped at Bowerman's blueberry emporium where we were informed that the Blue Crops (the preferred variety of berry) had finished and all that they had left was the dreaded Elliots. We were disappointed but bought five pounds anyway (for eleven dollars).

Then home to grill and eat. It was a tasty meal, topped by another iteration of brownies by our gracious hostess. Unky Herb made a nice side of eggplant and leeks in an Asian style. It was plenty good eating.

The sunset was curtailed by a bank of clouds moving in from the west. It just now began to rain and it looks like it'll be a thunder-banger. I nearly caught a quite unique sunset photo earlier, but missed by about 20 seconds. I got this instead.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tuesday was a nice day

The day brought a couple of changes. Nikki went off to start college and Unky Herb and PP went off to the campus to help her move into the dorm, her first day in her college career. And Mr and Mrs. Smith left for points west of here. We missed all three tonight at dinner, and spoke fondly of the last few days.

While all this moving was going on this afternoon, I went out and took a photo of our B&B. The house on the dune.

We had a stroll around the neighborhood, admiring the landscaping and the flowers in full bloom. August is a pretty month, but it also begins to predict the fall. There was a trip to Tunnel Park, shortly after the tour of the neighborhood. TJ and PP stood in front of the setting sun, talking and enjoying the last part of the day, the part just before the sun goes below the horizon.

The sunset in the west across the big lake was very red and, although nearly cloudless, quite attractive. Not vanilla, nor neapolitan, more of a cherry cobbler.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rosy Mound Nature Area

Our Monday adventure was a return to Rosy Mound Nature Area. PP, UH, NCW, TJ, Nikki and OSLO met at the parking lot of the area. It's an up and down trail over a big, wooded dune to the beach in a pretty and natural setting. It was a couple of hours of walking and climbing up and down steps, but well worth the trip.

In the lowlands near the beach there is a grove of white pines. The wind in the pines makes a lovely sound and NCW stopped to listen and appreciate the place.

We stopped near the beach for a group photo after covering about half of the total of 411 steps in the journey to the beach from the trail head.

The group took a side trip to visit the beach while NCW and I had a little sit down. I caught them lined up coming back to join us.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Dueling sunsets

A fine sunset arrived tonight at the usual time. This time it was more than vanilla, more neapolitan.

Several members of the family watching as the sun sets in the west one more time. Silhouettes all.

PP and Unky Herb on the deck while the sunset glowed in the background.

PP sitting on the top of the world.  The structure we call the parthenon overlooks the big lake and miles of sandy beach.

The group, or most of it, standing at the top of the dune, before some dashing up and down the dune took place.

Another beautiful day in August of 2013.

Sunday, August 4, 2013


There seem to be a lot more hummingbirds outside the urban areas than inside. NCW has a hummingbird feeder on her deck and I decided to see if I could get a decent shot of one or two of the fast moving critters. They're small and their movements seem to define the word "flit." I focused my telephoto lens on the feeder and waited for the birds to come to drink. There were four or five different birds and they all stopped by for a sip or two of the sweet red liquid. I took nearly 100 photos, trying to get a bird in air and in focus. I got a lot of blur and sometimes an empty frame, but in the end I have a few pretty decent photos of hummers. This one is one of the top four or five of the best.

The clouds were interesting across Swan Lake on this very nice early August day. It was 75, sunny and with just a hint of a breeze. Did I say it was a very nice day?

The sun is down and the loons have begun their lonesome cries across the lake. It's nice to sit back and listen to them talk to each other. I wonder what they're saying.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Vanilla sundown

Some sunsets are vanilla and some are tutti-frutti. The absence of clouds on the horizon is a real obstacle to anything dramatic. The sunset on Swan Lake tonight was decidedly vanilla.

The shore line at NCW's place on Swan Lake was pretty calm tonight. I've seen it quite a bit busier, markedly when Santini and the Grands were here a couple of weeks ago. I know you can't see the mosquitoes, but they were in attendance, I can assure you.

I saw a couple of deer on my drive north.  They were next to the road near Cromwell. They looked momentarily suicidal, but opted to fade back into the forest from whence they came.  I failed to get a photo, but I also failed to get any dents in my car.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Down the creek without a paddle

It was again a very nice day and a trifle unexpected for August. I always think that August brings brutal heat, but this year not so much. I took a walk over by Minnehaha Falls. I went down along the north bank of the creek and followed its course to the Mississippi, then came back on the south bank. There were plenty of youngsters out enjoying the day including a group of high school football hopefuls doing roadwork in anticipation of the upcoming season.   They passed me a couple of times in my journey.

 Part way down the creek I encountered a snowy egret or white heron of some sort standing near the rushing waters.  I guess he was enjoying the day and watching for lunch to come floating by.

The bridge at the end of Minnehaha Creek just before the creek flows into the Mississippi River.  There were photographers standing on the bank of the Mississippi with a tripod taking a photo of the same subject.  I think I got the essence of the bridge without getting any people in the shot.

The mighty Minnehaha Falls from the lower level. The water is high and gushing over the precipice.  This must be the most photographed scene in the Twin Cities.

The USTA summer season is over. We finished last night at St Paul Academy courts playing a make-up match from an earlier rainout. I played with Brad at the first doubles position. I guess our captain was using strategy to give us up in hopes of winning at a lower position. It didn't necessarily work, but we did our part by losing a fairly close match, but the guys lower down didn't quite eke out the win, losing in a third set tiebreaker,  and the team as a whole went down 3-2. We finished the season standings in the middle of the pack somewhere. There will not be any play-off action for this team this year. My own USTA record for the summer ends at 2 wins and 3 losses. Not too bad for playing in a league allowing any 4.0 players over the age of 40.