Saturday, November 30, 2013

The November pizza party was held at Mark and Peggy's place

It was a beautiful day for most of the day. The sun was out and the temperature rose into the early forties. I played Saturday morning tennis and then finished raking the last leaves in the front lawn. Those dratted oak leaves refuse to fall until it's almost Christmas. I bagged them up and transported them off to the St Paul leaf recycling site.

Then this evening we went to Mark and Peggy's for the usual November pizza party, but at a new venue. It was a nice party with the usual excess of pizza, salad and some desserts. We had a lot of fun, ate well and got reacquainted with some family not always in attendance at these gatherings. Mark's son, Mark II, delivered the pizza and went back to work at the pizzeria. He joined us later, but missed the group photos.

Left to right, back row: Gino, Mark, Andy, Peggy, Barb, Kelsey. Front row: Kara, Jimi, Laurie, Tula, Nicole.

The group again with Sharon instead of the Tousan. There was an exchange of photographers. Laurie for scale.

Laurie, Kelsey, and Nicole demonstrating flexibility and athleticism. A triple toe loop???

Nicole's daughter, Laurie, between two of her great uncles or is it great-uncles? She was enjoying the abundance of uncles in the room - mostly great ones.

So this ends the November blogging marathon. I must say that I enjoyed the process and although on a few days I found it hard to be fresh and original, it was a challenge and a nice way to keep up with the family. Now on to the Christmas season.

Friday, November 29, 2013

"Black Friday" is also known as "Buy Nothing Day" in some parts of the culture

It seems symmetric to close out the month with another pumpkin, ideally a Jack O'Lantern. As luck and life would have it, I failed to get a photo today, but I did actually see a few pumpkins still gracing the porches of some of my neighbors. There are three or four directly across the street. This photo, however, is a jack from last year - I think previously unpublished. It was taken on November 12 last year and we'd just had some snow. We are currently snowless in the Saintly City.

I have a great lot of turkey and other Thanksgiving goodies left in my refrigerator. I had a couple of turkey sandwiches, some stuffing and gravy today, but it appears that I'm going to have to freeze some of it if I want it to last, and so that I get full benefit of the tryptophan. Turkey is pretty good for a couple of days, but it doesn't age all that well, or at least that's what I think.

I played tennis again today. Tennis Dennis returned to the courts after being away for about three months for an illness. He played pretty well for an old guy who has been out of action that long. It's nice to have him back.

I think today is Mark and Peggy's wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary to both. We'll be having pizza together tomorrow night at their place. Probably a bloggable event.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving again finds me eating way too much chow

The people who ate here today are posed and photographed in a selfie technique called a "timer."  Adam gets credit for the fine photo.  Left to right: Kels, Sharon, Jimi, Emmy, Emsa, Adam, Barb, Ying, and Gene.  By this time we were all well fed and having a lot of fun, joking and telling tales.

The apple pie and its maker are shown well before the eating ritual. Besides the pie there were other great eats, too. The usual foodstuffs: roast turkey, wild rice stuffing, mashed potatoes, scalloped corn, cranberry bread, cranberry sauce, and green beans. In addition there were some new dishes. We had rye and whole wheat buns and twice baked yams by NCW, French cauliflower and potato soup, and croissants (by Ying).  And there were two pies - an apple and a pumpkin.

The Thanksgiving crew just before starting to chow down.  PP is cut off a bit, and for that I apologize, but the camera wouldn't do a wider angle.

We ate at four and after eating we had a walk around the neighborhood. Then we came back for a fast game of Boggle.

Tomorrow is so-called Black Friday which I am extremely unlikely to participate in.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's almost December and it's starting to feel like it

The eve of the turkey holiday is upon us. I have an eleven pound turkey in the fridge and most of the necessary accouterments nearby. In addition, there will be new home made placemats, compliments of NCW. One is shown below. She designed and sewed them on the sewing machine that she's been calling "Ruby."

To continue the selfie theme from a few days ago. There is a thing called a book selfie which is a selfie in front of books. It didn't make word of the year, but it's worth at least one blog in a month when I've pledged to blog everyday and I've run very low on ideas.

Notice the line of books by Kurt Vonnegut.  He wrote in "Mother Night" "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."  I'm trying to pretend to be a much younger man.  There are days when that's problematic.

The weather is Novemberish. There is a snow storm in the Arrowhead of Minnesota and Hibbing is getting some of that non-lake effect snow. I was outside a while today - on the way to play some tennis. Otherwise it was just another Thanksgiving Eve.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

It's a nasty weather day, but no blizzard in sight here for a few days at least.

It looked like a sunny, reasonably pleasant afternoon. I needed some exercise and so did NCW, so we decided to walk to Grand Avenue and see if there were any interesting things going on in the neighborhood, maybe something that could be photographed and uploaded to blogger.   Appearances are sometimes deceiving. There was a biting wind and the temperature a mere 20º F. That means a nasty wind chill. We bundled up and went for a 25 minute walk, but it wasn't pleasant and no photos seemed worth taking my gloves off for. For the record, there are still a few pumpkins on porches, even a few directly across the street.

Since NCW was in the process of making rye buns for Thanksgiving, I decided to use those buns as my theme for the day. Here they are just before going into the oven.

Baking buns - the process of killing the yeast and making the breadstuff delicious.

The final product, fresh from the oven, ready for butter and Bowerman's Blueberry Preserves.  I had two.  Very tasty.

I asked her about the recipe, but she doesn't use one. She just mixes about the right amounts of each ingredient until it looks and feels right. It works for her, but it's not possible to post a recipe on the cooking blog. I know, however, that she does not use any cinnamon at all. I asked.

Monday, November 25, 2013

November is a long and often dark month.

On a walk in the neighborhood I ran across an interesting juxtaposition of holiday decorations. This house is decorated for Christmas, waiting for the snow and the passing of the Thanksgiving holiday, while next door the orange of Halloween is still very much present.

Not Jack O'Lanterns, just pumpkins left over from Halloween sitting outside waiting to be replaced by Christmas decor.

I don't think anyone decorates their homes for Thanksgiving. I haven't seen any turkey statues or cranberry displays.

Thanksgiving was first declared by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, during the Civil War, and has been celebrated ever since - usually as the fourth Thursday in November.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

On a Sunday that's beginning to feel like winter has settled in

On a cold afternoon, I went walking with the north country woman. It was exercise and a trip to the drug store for something or another. I've been noticing the paint jobs of fire hydrants and wondering if they might mean something. NCW had inquired of the Grand Rapids Fire Chief as to what the colors might mean. As it turns out there is a color coding so that fire fighters get critical information when they arrive to hook up their hoses to a hydrant. Hydrant caps are painted to indicate the flow rate of the hydrant: blue is very good flow (1500 gallon per minute or more), green is good for residential areas (1000-1499 gallons per minute, and orange (and yellow?) is marginally adequate (500-999 gallons per minute). Outlet caps are similarly marked for amount of hydrant pressure. Orange (yellow?) is normal range (50-120 psi). There's a fire hydrant color site. Who knew? It's apparently a national standard.

As we walked we noticed a few with green outlet caps, mostly on the busier and perhaps more commercial streets like Grand Avenue, indicating higher hydrant pressure.

An update on the condition of NCW's ankle, in the form of a quiz. Try to guess which ankle was recently the subject of a surgeon's scalpel. The question is made a little more difficult by housing the ankles in socks designed to look like what PP termed psychedelic giraffe skin.

Another pair of socks for scale. Different socks, different ankles. Different psychedelic animal skin.

Today started out as a cold Sunday at about 9º F. and topped out at 28º F. The lakes are pretty much frozen over in the Saintly City and they are snowless, so they look like a shimmering layer of glass. They're pretty attractive and I'll try to get some photos before the first snow spoils the effect.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The first "Doctor Who" was broadcast on this day in 1963. Fifty years ago.

I must admit that I could have taken a photo outside today. I did not. I'm instead relying on an archive shot from 1987 to fulfill my pledge to blog every day in November for today. For frequent readers of this blog, the identities of the subjects are easily ascertained. Unky Herb and the Prairie Princess at a tender age.

It was a cold day today. The coldest so far this season, and the shortest amount of sunlight so far this dark season. The sun was out and bright, but the temperature never reached 20º F. and is predicted to dip to 3º F. tonight.

It was not a blockbuster day. I played some morning tennis at Wooddale, then NCW and I went to find some exercise equipment to facilitate her physical therapy. We found a pedal exerciser, which is the pedal part of a exercycle, at Sports Authority, and it pretty well fills the bill.

PP is off to EM and EM's for some dinner and social activity. There may be photos elsewhere on the blogosphere.

Friday, November 22, 2013

There is a wind chill warning for tomorrow. Wind chill of -10º F. expected.

The Prairie Princess is off to a concert tonight, but I was able to convince her to pose for a photo in her concert garb before she left. She was modeling high heeled toeless shoes before she settled on more practical shoes. I suggested woolen socks to go with her outfit, because it's only 30º, but she rejected that completely out of hand. This outfit looks pretty good.

I've been listening to all the media talk about the anniversary of JFK's assassination on November 22, 1963. I remember hearing the reports soon after getting out of bed while at Hamline where I was a junior. I had had an 8 a.m. math class, and, as was my practice at the time, I went back to bed after class to finish my night of sleep. I remember a bit of disorientation and a feeling of otherworldliness. It was Friday and it was an odd weekend, with TV watching and a memorial service at the college.

What I don't remember and what I just learned lately was that on that date two other memorable men died - Aldous Huxley, of "Brave New World" fame, and C.S. Lewis, author of "The Chronicles of Narnia. No one noticed.

An interesting fact about Clive Staples Lewis, "At the age of four, shortly after his dog Jacksie was killed by a car, he announced that his name was now Jacksie. At first, he would answer to no other name, but later accepted Jack, the name by which he was known to friends and family for the rest of his life."  I love Wikipedia.

I came home from tennis and NCW was here. Her ankle has recovered enough so that she's able to drive and is almost ready to dance. Her physical therapy doesn't include any dancing, but her doc recommends some time on a stationary bicycle. Or is that "stationery".

Just call me "Tag."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Sometimes there's a story to a neck pillow

The Prairie Princess blogged today. Then she took a photo for me so that I wouldn't have to resort to another selfie. I wanted a shot of the neck pillow that I was wearing when she took the shot. I used to have an aqua or teal colored polo shirt that was my favorite summer shirt. I wore it quite a bit, including a few times in Florida and likely on walking trips to Tunnel Park. A while ago, as I was taking off the shirt at the end of a busy day, I ripped the back of the shirt so bad that it seemed to be a total loss - something to throw into the trash. The fabric is polo shirt fabric and not so easy to mend. The North Country Woman said that she could make a neck pillow out of the material that remained. And she did. See the geezer sitting in his favorite chair with his favorite neck pillow.

We're getting a dusting of snow today. I guess we'll get a bit more and a trip to the deep freeze for a few days. The winter is beginning to tighten its grip.

It was a dark enough day that I had to make a batch of my veggie soup. I had some veggies that weren't getting used - a batch of celery left from my last foray into several bean salad, and a container of dried mushrooms that had been donated to the larder quite a while ago. Those were the main ingredients to start with and I added broth, onions, carrots, garlic, corn, diced tomatoes and mild curry paste.  Plus a few other spices.   Maybe a little too much of the curry paste, but PP judged it about the right level of hot. I think it turned out okay.  I'll have a bowl before I go to play tennis this evening.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

"'Selfie' named Oxford's 2013 word of the year over 'twerk,' 'binge-watch'"

I see that Oxford Dictionary chose "selfie" as word of the year. It means a photo taken by oneself of oneself. I just learned of it recently myself, but I've indulged in them unknowingly from time to time. I just didn't have a name for the process. After consulting with the Prairie Princess about how to do it, I tried one or two. See below. In a month where I've posted a bunch of pumpkin heads, I guess one more doesn't make much difference.

Twerking is the dance made famous by Miley Cyrus. Binge-watch means to watch many episodes of one TV series back to back to back.

Another cloudy day recorded on the street where I live. It was warm - maybe 45º - and no danger of snow for another day. I remember some pretty horrific blizzards in Novembers past, usually, it seems, on Thanksgiving weekends. I took this photo at about 4 p.m. after returning home from playing indoor tennis at Fort Snelling.

Blogging every day for a month takes some discipline and some desperation when trying to come up with new and/or novel topics and related photos. There are still ten more days in November.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Back to the relative heat of the big city

After a couple of days by Swan Lake, I left NCW by the lake and came back to St Paul. Swan Lake was still iceless yesterday, but it was cold overnight - in the lower 20's, so there may be lake ice there now, too. There is ice on Como. After an uneventful road trip home slowed only by a lunch stop at White Castle in Hinckley, I arrived home in sunshine. The Prairie Princess was here and we went for a walk at Como to enjoy the nice weather. It wasn't quite as nice as it had seemed, but it was good enough. The lake has begun to get a thin layer of ice on the surface, especially in the central part of the lake. We stopped to look at a small flock of mallards in the water. They may have been the same group that Mr Moohoo photographed a couple of days ago. I missed a good photo of them because my camera battery bogged in the cold.

The ice forms in its own way. The rock interfered with a smooth transition to solid and caused small shards of ice to pile unto the rock itself. There was a small area of open water on the leeward side.

The sky was pretty interesting. The clouds and sun had a late autumn interplay that only seems to happen in late autumn.

We finished a circumnavigation of the lake before dark and managed to get home through rush hour traffic in time for a warm dinner.  Leftover pizza.

Monday, November 18, 2013

November is a pretty long month, it seems

Here in the northland, it never got to 32º F. and yet the lakes are still not frozen over. I read in the paper that some guy somewhere around Sandstone has already gone through the ice while attempting to do a little ice fishing. Swan Lake was entirely liquid.  The clouds had a strange purplish hue, probably reflected sunlight from somewhere in the stratosphere.  At least we had no scary wind storms.

NCW had her first day of physical therapy today in Nashwauk. It'll take 15-20 sessions before she's back to full strength, but the process has to start somewhere.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mark it down as a Sunday not to be long remembered

It was a dark, wimpy day. I managed a visit to Swan Lake and am including a current view from NCW's deck. There's not much scenic about it and could serve as a "before" picture for a "before and after" sequence. As darkness deepened when the sun moved lower in the sky, it started to snow. Just a few flurries with some misty rain. Nothing serious nor very pretty.

We did have a really tasty walleye dinner at Florio's in Cohasset. I guess that may have been the high point.

The Vikings lost big time. I did not touch my tennis racket for the first time since Tuesday.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

"Sometimes you eat the bar and sometimes... well, he eats you."

It looked like I might be able to get in a walk this afternoon before the serious rain began, and I thought I'd like to scout the area north of Summit for leftover pumpkin faces. As luck would have it there was just a hint of a mist when I took my adventurous bones north towards Grand. The rain held off until I'd reached a point so far from home that I was about to turn and return to the shelter of home. Then it came down and continued for the 15 or so blocks that I needed to traverse before reaching adequate shelter. I'm home now, without any decent pumpkin face photos and with wet shoes. Sometimes you win and sometimes not so much.

But I did get one photo that at least indicates the kind of day it was. Dark and damp. I stopped near Victoria Crossing in the shelter of an overhang and took the defining photo for the day.

Tennis on Saturday: 6-4, 6-3, 2-2.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Getting old is not for sissies

It was a really nice day today. I wish that I would have finished the remaining yard work, but I was too busy with grocery shopping and tennis playing. This may be the last of the Jack O'Lantern photos. They're starting to look peaked. Sagging and down at the mouth.

I'm borrowing one of Wireless' items from her 33 "Ask Me a Question" questions.

28: can you think of anything more boring than birdwatching?

Yes, I can. Watching paint dry. Watching the same lame commercial over and over. Setting pins in one of those 1950's bowling alleys. Raking the leaves from the same lawn more than once a season. Waiting for the Zombie Apocalypse.

Actually bird watching is pretty interesting, and most birds lead a pretty complex and interesting life. I've been watching birds in various seasons and in various locations for quite a while and I actually recommend it as an enjoyable pastime. Just a few days ago there was a hawk sitting on my back fence eying the squirrels and small birds. I ran to get my camera, but just before I took the photo from inside the house, it flew off. I got nothing but a blur. It's the first hawk I've seen this close to home, but I think they've discovered the plethora of protein they can find in squirrels, rabbits and smaller birds in St Paul's urban environment.

See. Just a blur.

Oh yeah. The afternoon tennis session went pretty well: 6-3, 5-7. And I'm knackered again. GOINFS.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

There is a rumor that Andy Kaufman staged his death in 1984 and is still alive in Arizona.

The Prairie Princess and I had a walk today in pretty nice weather. NCW stayed home to rest her healing ankle.  It was sunny and in the upper 40's, very pleasant for the middle of November. We walked past Linwood Park, down St. Clair and up the big stairs by the tennis courts into the Crocus Hill neighborhood. We were looking for Jacks, and talking about the quality of life in this great state, and how things have changed in the world since I moved into this neighborhood.

The Halloween decorations are still out there. Soon most will be replaced with (gasp) Christmas lights, but this grouping is still pretty attractive. There is a Jack O'Lantern, or two, among the other uncarved pumpkins and they're beginning to show their age, too. There is a short life for these orange beasts.

The Halloween decor abides. People go all out and I guess they like to see their handiwork last at least a few weeks.  That's as big a spider as you're likely to see the rest of the year.

It's November 14 and on a street a few short blocks from here there is a stretch of trees that still have refused to give up their foliage - Kelsey trees, because they never give up. They're almost all oaks and very healthy looking.

I played tennis at Wooddale Tennis Center - the Fun Zone - tonight with Jerry and the hard core girls. I'm, as they say in some parts of the English speaking world, knackered. It was fun, but I need some rest before I go out and do it again.  Tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

That Miley Cyrus thing did nothing to enhance my blog visit statistics.

Jack O'Lanterns. They are still out there on porches and steps, but they are beginning to become squirrel fodder. The ones that have been eating on this Jack seem to have done a fairly symmetric job of enlarging the eyes.

Another of the toothless variety of Jacks. This guy is in pretty good shape having so far avoided the attention of the squirrelly creatures.  But he looks a bit frightened for his future.

The oaks, at least some of them, have dropped almost all their leaves and the black scraggly branches stand out against the very blue sky.  It was in the low 50's today, a very nice November day.

NCW went to the surgeon today and he retired the walking boot. Now she has an ankle brace to replace it and a soon to be arranged schedule of physical therapy at a Nashwauk clinic. Progress.  She'll be dancing by New Year's Day.

I was back to playing tennis again today. Wednesdays I play 90 minutes at Fred Wells Tennis Center at Fort Snelling. I was about a half step off my game today, but it was still fun and I'm glad I played. 7-5, 4-1.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Miley Cyrus did no twerking in St Paul today. I looked for Jack O'Lanterns yet again

"It was the best of days, it was the worst of days." It was a cold day. The Pengilly Woman and I had to go to Penzey's Spices to get a bottle of crushed rosemary and figured we could check out the area near there for whatever leftover Jacks were hanging out.  I used the last of the rosemary this morning in a batch of three (or four) bean salad.  Penzey's has a fine assortment of spices and, as it is a spice store, it has a rather pleasant aroma. We were able to find the correct size of the correct spice and went south a block to look for our quarry. The sun was bright, but the air November-ish.

This Jacko was nestled on a porch near Dale and Lincoln. It shows a technique that I hadn't seen before, namely to use the stem for the nose. It's pretty effective and I think I like it. It is, however, beginning to show its age and is sagging a bit.

This Jack espouses the not often seen cat motif. This one is showing good resilience partly due to the 25º weather.  It was a block south on Goodrich.

My fellow Jack O'Lantern searcher is still sporting a weight on her right leg, but she was quite capable of walking the few blocks that were necessary to find these nearly two week old creations. I think we have at least until Saturday to find new ones and then I think they will seriously thin out.

We continued to Target to buy some dinner raw materials and gloves for the northern woman, who left her warm ones at home.

That Miley Cyrus stuff in the title is just an experiment to see if, by mentioning the notorious Ms. Cyrus, I can get more readers, or maybe just a few more hits. I'll let you know.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I'm beginning to weary of the search for carved pumpkins. Nineteen days to go.

It's Monday and a sunny, but quite chilly a Monday it was. The route for looking for Jacks took me further east to Crocus Hill Street and back along Fairmount. There are still quite a number of creations left outside, and today there was no fear that any rot would take place. It was too cold.

This is the best of the mouthless Jacks, a bit wrinkled, but mostly uneaten.

Another designer and carver and a little bit different look to this Jacko.  A simple design with a square nose and triangular eyes.  Just a slit for mouth.

While out and about, looking for orange fruit-like objects, we encountered another of St Paul's sidewalk poetry. Food for thought?

Unky Herb makes another guest appearance in the blog. He's shown here as he arrives in the evening, dressed for the kind of weather that we're having and are likely to continue to have for a few months.  It's nice to have a human in the blog, especially one with some orange to him.

I was going to try to work the word "bloviate" into the blog, but I see that blogger doesn't recognize it as a real word. So I guess I won't use it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

I think that this Jack O'Lantern theme has a few more days to run

I haven't given up on the theme of the month, but the pickings are starting to thin out. People are starting to toss their old pumpkins into the garbage as they rot and get partially consumed by the neighboring squirrels. It's almost two weeks since theJack O'Lanterns were stationed by front doors and on porch railings.  I've begun to stockpile photos to last through the end of the month.

NCW and I went out to find grist for the blog a little after noon. Photos and anecdotes.  This guy is nearly done. The squirrels have found him and they like how he tastes. He has only a couple of more days. All is lost.

This Jacko was previously posted on this blog on November 3. He's still around but aging.  And down in the mouth.

This is a previously unposted Jacko. It's more of the vanilla variety, but is beginning to show its advanced age.  You can see his hat through his mouth where it has settled.

This is one of the more unique yard decorations in the neighborhood. It's enough to scare you any day of the year. No need to wait for Halloween.  Interestingly, it is leashed to the tree behind it as though it were actually alive and a threat.

It was a pleasant, but chilly walk around the area. Tomorrow promises to be the first day of the season when the temperature will remain below freezing. The dark season is upon us.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Saturday, the day named for the ringed planet, Saturn

It was a good day to hunt for Jack O'Lanterns. I'm still not sure how long this can continue, but there were still a lot of them sitting around on steps and porches. I think they may be gone by Thanksgiving. I guess I'll see. I'll have to find another theme if that comes to pass.  This is my favorite Jacko from today.

Less than a block away on Chatsworth this guy appears to be losing his lean and hungry look.  The cold weather seems to be retarding the speed of decomposition.  After all it's nearly the same temperature as the average refrigerator most of the time this part of the year.

Another unique Jack. This one seems toothless - a rare breed. And without a nose hole.

It was a cold and windy day and the wind took care of bringing down a lot of the leaves on the more stubborn of trees. My neighbor was out raking this p.m. and told me that it was his third attempt to get the leaves off the ground and into those big black plastic bags.  He's a pretty determined guy.  This is how one street in St Paul looked this afternoon.

I played Saturday morning tennis at Wooddale this morning. I was tired before I started and again knackered at the end. It was competitive, and the scores were close: 4-6, 4-6 in ninety minutes.