Sunday, December 30, 2007

Sunday: Countdown to New Year's Eve

Another Sunday is almost over. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. I have big plans: I'm going to watch the ball go down in Times Square. On television. I enjoy watching the crowd of people who come every year to celebrate the passing of another 365-and-a-fraction days.

I grilled lunch: six burger patties today, since we had a guest and #1 daughter visiting after church. I'm pleased to report that I grilled the burgers, without incinerating them - without supervision. I'm learning.

Our guest is dividing her time between here and the Sauk Centre Grandpa's home. #2 daughter joined her, for a while at least, this afternoon.

#3 daughter and our son spent part of the afternoon, playing a Leggo Star Wars game on the Game Cube that their cousin brought. #3 daughter said she was surprised to be playing a video game. She also said, "this is really, really, hard." While she was playing, our son sat beside her on the living room couch, giving advice.

After supper, the kids set up the Game Cube with a Karaoke game. Our son did a creditable job on one of the sing-alongs.

Then, chores being more-or-less done, everyone except me went to Soo Bahk Do. I've been getting a little work done while the house is quiet.

Saturday: I Dropped My WebCam, But Otherwise
This was a Good Day

Not too long ago, I dropped the older digital camera that I use as a WebCam. Amazingly, the thing still works.

That's about as bad as it got today.

After a lazy morning, I shoveled off today's snow from the pad in front of the grill. Our son helped me get the burgers out, then #2 daughter kept me company while I grilled. As usual when she's watching me, the burgers didn't get over-done.

Aside from making part of lunch, we chatted about the Batman cartoon series that we watch. That was hardly a deep conversation, but it was fun.

Later in the afternoon, our son and I went out for a couple of errands. First stop was Coborns, to get a game for the game cube that one of his cousins would be bringing. I'm not sure how she'll react to the Leggo Star Wars game he rented, but he's excited about it. Our next stop was Wal-Mart. He wanted to see if a new Bionicle was there yet. It wasn't, but we had fun looking at other Bionicle toys (excuse me, action figures) and getting a Batman car back to its home aisle.

There does seem to be a lot of Batman around, these days.

The cousin (to the kids) / niece (to me) arrived around 7:00. By then, we'd had supper and done chores. Most of them, anyway. I stayed home while the rest of the family went over to the Sauk Centre Grandpa's house to watch a movie: "High School Musical 2."

I've seen it several times, recently, and an empty, quiet house was a wonderful opportunity to get some work done.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Friday: Countdown to the New Year

My wife, #2 daughter, #3 daughter, and our son, were over at the Sauk Centre grandpa's store this morning, minding the shop. They got back earlier than I expected, around noon.

I found out that a selection of nieces will be showing up to spend New Year's Eve, at least, with #2 daughter and #3 daughter. This was the first I'd heard of the plan.

With some help from our son, and the three daughters, I got set up with a "Yahoo!" account, complete with email. #1 daughter has been reminding me regularly about the virtues of having such a thing. Mainly, I understand, she wants me to be able to send and receive large graphic files via Yahoo! Messenger. I'll also enjoy the animated, and noisy, emoticons.

I drove #1 daughter back to her place in Alexandria this afternoon. I enjoyed having another twenty minutes - more like a half hour - to talk with her. That leaves two daughters and our son at home: still enough to keep things lively.

While in the big town (about 8,000 people: twice the size of Sauk Centre), I went to Menard's and checked out some items for my wife. Thanks to a digital camera, I'll be able to show her what I found. Sure beats trying to describe what hardware and vinyl look like.

Hoarfrost covered trees and quite a few other surfaces outside today. I snapped a few photos: but haven't checked out what they look like yet. I enjoy days when branches are covered in frost: ideally, with a clear blue sky to set them off. Today was overcast, which is also okay. Streets and roads took on a sort of fairyland look.

A scanned in #2 daughter's college ID this evening, and cut the image down to size. She needs a two-sided image, to get a student discount with an online service.

And, as usual, our son and I read comics and sang before bedtime. Life is good.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday: Sledding, Writing, and Good News

#2 daughter and our son were out sledding this afternoon. I'm told that the slope they were on was a sort of 'dead man's curve,' where the sledders are airborne. Twice.

She and #1 daughter talked with me, in series and parallel, this afternoon. I was at the computer, getting a webcam ready. I think it's the first one in Sauk Centre that looks out on a street ( Right now, it's looking out at a lot of dark, but when sunrise comes, I'll be bringing views a snowy intersection in Sauk Centre to the world.

The anesthetic from my medical experience this morning is still sloshing through my veins, so writing took a little more thinking than usual. At one point, #2 daughter said, "babble on, just like you usually do: People enjoy it." I hope she's right.

I'm hoping that all the doze-and-forget juice is out of my system by tomorrow morning. I seem to be focusing better now that it's evening: mentally and visually.

It looks like my wife gets to keep me a while longer. My colonoscopy didn't show anything to worry about, which is a load off my mind. I got photos, capturing highlights of the scope's expedition. When I talked about posting them, she said, "you would do that."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wednesday: Day After Christmas

I went to the clinic today, to learn about diabetes and me. Next week, I get to start pricking my fingers. Can't say that I'm looking forward to that.

#2 daughter spent time with her Sauk Centre grandpa, and some of his friends: once a regular and pleasant experience, now even more pleasant when they can all get together.

#1 daughter and our son went sledding this afternoon. Those two also helped me set up a webcam. It's not ready for prime time yet: but I think I've got the technicaly end worked out, and working.

Yesterday, I said that I'd have more photos ready today. That was an optimistic prediction.

Tomorrow, maybe.

(This paragraph will be a bit 'medical.' Feel free to skip it.) I'm getting a colonoscopy tomorrow. Today's preparations left me feeling distinctly below peak efficiency.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Tuesday: Christmas, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I've had a good day. Our eleven-year-old son took the VHS/RW-DVD player/recorder out of its box, along with the usual spaghetti bowl of cables and parts this afternoon. By supper time, he had the thing set up in the family room, correctly connected to the television and VCR, and working. He's pleased with his work, and so am I.

#2 daughter and #3 daughter spent quite a bit of time talking. At one point, they were at the kitchen table while I was at the computer. #1 daughter was sitting next to me, but we hadn't talked in a few minutes. She was reading a book, and I was trying to sort something out.

#2 daughter came over and said something like, "If you're just reading, why don't you move one chair over: I'll sit there and talk to Dad so he makes more mistakes."

It's great to have kids who look after your reputation like that!

The rest of the evening was more or less routine, except that my wife - all of us, with the probable exception of our son - enjoyed another episode of "Hawaii 5-O." This time, it was one she hadn't seen before. Which is a rare experience for her. She's quite a 5-O/Jack Lord fan.

Our son and I went through the once-again-usual routine of reading comics and a song before bed. I'm still touched that he remembered that, and wanted to pick the custom up again.

About the photos I mentioned yesterday: I'll post a few now, maybe get more ready later. Sorry about that: but I had a choice between enjoying some high-value family time, or processing pictures.

This first photo is me. Among other things, I got a Santa cap and a cartoon necktie. Excellent presents, both.

Yes, that's the Grinch, waiting around the corner from Santa Claus.

This household has put on quite a show in their garden for many Christmases.

This has been one of my favorite Christmas displays, since we moved to this town.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Monday: Christmas Eve

This family has been at church quite a bit today. #1 daughter and our son stayed home this morning while the rest of us practiced with the choir. Then, toward supper time, all of us went to church for the 'midnight Mass.' It actually happens at five, now.

Apart from the religious importance, we've got pretty good music at Our Lady of the Angels. But then, I like the traditional Christmas songs and music.

Back home, we ate supper, and then it was time for me to take the kids (minus #2 daughter) round town to look at Christmas lights. That gives me some fun time, time for my wife (assisted by #2 daughter) to set out the presents.

After I got back home, the six of us: me, my wife, #1 daughter, #2 daughter, #3 daughter, and our son, sat around the Christmas tree evening. Not all the way around: It's in a corner of the family room.

And I realized that I'd forgotten to wrap (bag, actually) my wife's present. #2 daughter said 'that's okay, I know where it is.' She told my wife that she'd have to use a Coborn's bag: that's a brown paper bag from a grocery in town.

My wife's comment, "I'm used to it." She enjoyed what I'd found, though. It's not often that I get a squeal out of her, but the second season of "Hawaii 5-O" on DVD did it.

There's more to say, but I'm running out of time and wakefulness. This has been a good "family" day.

I should have some photos to show, tomorrow.

Sunday: Lille Julaften (Little Christmas Eve)

I slept through more of lille julaften ("lilee yule-aften," or Little Christmas Eve) than I intended to. I'm beginning to suspect that the timer I use to wake me from naps doesn't have a very loud beeper.

The rest of the family were more 'on the ball,' getting over to (the Sauk Centre) Grandpa's house this afternoon, getting together with assorted kinfolk.

We all made it to church. The place was packed. We'll be there quite a bit in the near future. Tomorrow, the choir will be singing at 9:00, which involves my wife, #2 daughter, #3 daughter, and me. We'll be back Christmas Day, since this is a Catholic family. We "have to" go to these celebrations, like the official birthday of Jesus. Hardly the worst duty I've had to perform.

#1 daughter came home today. We'll have her here for five days, I understand. I've already stayed up too late, talking with her.

Everyone in the immediate family, except me and our son, went to Soo Bahk Do practice tonight. That kept me away from the tree-lighting ceremony at church. I haven't heard anything, so I assume that it went without incident.

About lille julaften: that's something that my Norwegian forebears made rather more of than I do. We've had the Christmas decorations up for a while - but I like to remember the day, anyway.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Saturday: Countdown to Christmas - 2 days

I overslept this morning, and so didn't go over to the in-town Grandpa's to visit with kinfolk who had come for a Christmas visit. They had a good time, and the kids enjoyed meeting two of their newest cousins.

It may be just as well that I didn't go. For one thing, I got some work done, and for another, this was my first day on my blood-sugar-control medication. It's metformin, a 20th-century addition to the west's official pharmacopoeia - derived from the French lilac, which has been used to treat diabetes for centuries. So far, I've got three of five major side effects: [blogger's advice - skip the rest of this paragraph if you've eaten recently] stomach upset, indigestion, and nausea. I wouldn't mind skipping the other two.

I'll keep taking those pills, though. Being aware of low blood sugar before I crash will involve a short learning curve. That's okay, though: I enjoy learning.

Happily, my wife, #2 daughter, #3 daughter, and our son came back in time for me to grill burgers for supper. The sun had set by then, so the neighbors' Christmas lights and the grill's flames looked very bright. #2 daughter kept me company for part of the time I spent out there, sensibly staying in the garage's open back door.

I had a 'shazam moment' this evening, talking with our son. He pointed out that he was looking forward to Monday because it was Christmas Eve, and that his Christmas vacation had started. Somehow, Christmas being on next Tuesday had slipped my mind yesterday.

My wife, #2 daughter, #3 daughter, and our son were with me in the family room this evening. The ladies occupied the couch, our son was on the floor with his laptop (a hand-me-down from #1 daughter). I was in the corner, twiddling with my laptop, completing this information-age equivalent of gathering around the family hearth.

They may have been talking about medical checkups, because my wife said something like 'You know how to really get the attention of a nurse? Go into a meditative state while they're taking your blood pressure.' #2 daughter agreed, adding that it's fun to lower your heart rate, too. Those two might have been joking, but I don't think so.

Later, our son and I went through our recently-resumed evening routine of reading comics. And, he reminded me that he'd told me about some web-cam-related software about two months ago. I'd brought it up as a new topic as we started the routine.

All in all, it's been a good day.

Friday: Countdown to Christmas

Three more days, and it's Christmas.

Happily, preparations in this household are complete. As far as I know, at least.

Our son is looking forward to Monday. That's when some very special things go on at school, I understand. A friend of his was over here this afternoon for a while. The friend came up with an interesting question: what to Bionicles eat? I'll say this for that Lego company product: It can get kids thinking.

#2 daughter and my wife had a long talk in the kitchen this evening. What they talked about, I don't know. Still, it warms my heart to see and hear those two doing mother-daughter stuff.

#3 daughter and our son watched cartoons, and I had a talk with #1 daughter on the phone: in other words, we had a fairly normal evening.

#1 daughter has been reminding me of the virtues of Yahoo Messenger each time we talk: mostly that it's less expensive to use that the telephone (not counting connection charges, I suspect) - and allows file transfer. One of these days, I'll sign up.

I had blood drawn for a physical earlier this week. They must have liked what they found, because I got called back for an encore yesterday morning. Then, yesterday afternoon, I got a call from the clinic. The nurse told me that we had good news, and bad news.

It looks like I've got an early stage of diabetes - or something that looks a lot like it. Happily, that was the bad news. Even better, a relatively inexpensive medication with only mildly disgusting side effects should keep me going for quite a while.

Best of all, this will be a wonderful incentive for me to get control of my weight, and get in shape.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thursday: Getting Close to Christmas

I got a call from #1 daughter this morning. She's got a little month left over at the end of her money. I think I was able to help. For me, it's a 'been there, done that' situation: and one that's a wonderful opportunity for developing negotiation skills.

#2 daughter, #3 daughter, my wife, and the music group they practice with had a gig at a senior citizen's nutrition center today. They had a good time, and I hear the seniors did, too. When #2 daughter started singing "Silent Night" in German, quite a few of the people there sang along. She was impressed. These are people who don't generally sing in church.

I suppose it makes a difference, being in a more informal setting: and hearing the song in a good, old, familiar setting.

It's Soo Bahk Do practice for my wife, at-home daughters, and son tonight. I get to stay home and, possibly, get some work done.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Wednesday: a Poster and Photos

#2 daughter and #3 daughter are still working on that poster. Apparently my guess about how far along they were was optimistic. Or maybe they're pessimistic. Time will tell.

#1 daughter came this morning, to pick up a document, and stayed for most of the day. She talked with her sisters, and I had some time with her, too. That was a good experience.

#2 daughter and #3 daughter borrowed my camera again today. They're taking photos: I think to make desktop wallpapers for #2 daughter.

Our son and I enjoyed that bedtime routine of reading from a comic. We're still on the first Garfield book. And, there's a song that I've sung to each of the kids: It's what I remember of something my father sang to me when I was young.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tuesday: Discoveries

This evening, I discovered that I can do part of a Soo Bahk Do hyung (form).

One very small part -

- that my body informed me would result in specific muscles lodging formal complaints, if I were so imprudent as to attempt again, before a great deal of exercise and stretching.

And, our son is on a voyage of discovery in which he will discover that it is wise to have the shower curtain fully drawn and inside the bathtub, before taking a shower.

#2 daughter and #3 daughter seem to have their poster project almost complete.

Monday: A Poster and Transitions

#2 daughter and #3 daughter are assembling a poster on the floor. #2 daughter wants a particular picture as a poster on her bedroom door. The two young ladies found a way of printing a mosaic of the picture on over a dozen sheets of 8 1/2" x 11" paper. I'll want to ask them how they did that.

I got a call from Hospice in the North Dakota town where my father lives. His health has been deteriorating for a year: quite frustrating for him. Right now, he's spending a few days in the hospital up there.

#2 daughter and I will be going up there, some time in January, to take care of some paperwork. Since my father's lungs aren't letting much oxygen in, he wants to be sure that all the end-of-life arrangements are set up.

Meanwhile, Christmas preparations go on. My wife gave me a correction for our Christmas list, and I got my "office" decorated. That decoration is a pair of plastic candy canes, about 18 feet of blue bead garland, a plastic candle, and a Santa cap my wife and daughters got for me.

The effect isn't exactly "Rockwell," but it's festive.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sunday Night: Soo Bahk Do,
Circadian Rhythm, and a Scorpion

Actually, it's now Monday morning.

My circadian rhythm is going to be in rare form tomorrow. Last night I got a few tasks done, and got to sleep late. #2 daughter observed that, in her almost three years of college, she'd never stayed up that late. (She's the one who my father once drew aside during a conversation with me, and said "let me talk to someone with sense.")

This afternoon I took a nap that didn't quite last five hours. And now it's - later than I like.

I can't afford to fly around the globe - but it looks like I've found a way to get jet lag.

#2 daughter and #3 daughter, my wife, and our son went to Soo Bahk Do tonight. #2 daughter and my wife returned early. I'm glad that #3 daughter has remembered and/or been keeping up with her hyungs and such.

When I sat down at the computer this evening, I saw a toy scorpion in my water mug. Obviously, this must be the work of our son. Not so. When I mentioned the trick to my wife, #2 daughter told me that she was the one who planted it. Practical joking runs in my wife's family.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sunday Noon

We're back from church. I am not going to make a habit of posting every few hours, but it seems to be happening today.

#1 daughter, #2 daughter, and #3 daughter are singing along to a karaoke DVD. They replaced a "Bionicle" DVD that our son had (playfully?) put in the player for them to start.

And now, it's time for me to grill lunch.

There's something I've forgotten to write about this week - got it! Maybe I'll remember in the next post.

Sunday Morning:

My son has been telling me about a Wii player he used at the family get-together. It's pronounced "wee." Which pretty well describes his reaction to it.

I'll admit that it sounds impressive.

Now, it's time to go to church.

Saturday Night

#1 daughter is, I presume, back in Alexandria. #2 daughter and #3 daughter spent a good part of the evening, talking in the other room. They, and our son, had a good time at the family get-together. The only no-shows were the cousins who have moved to the west coast.

I'm sorry to have missed it, but staying put was a prudent decision, I think.

These big get-togethers are good for the family: we get to renew bonds and share stories. I think there's another, involving another branch of my wife's family, coming up next summer. And something around Easter.

If that sounds vague to you, you're perceptive. There's a reason that my wife does the scheduling in this family.

I got a real treat this evening. #2 daughter had some free time, and talked with me for about 20 minutes or so. Good times.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Saturday Morning: It Could Be Worse

The family Christmas get-together (my wife's family - a great bunch) is happening today. It's in the Metro area. I'm here in Sauk Centre. So is my wife, and #3 daughter.

This wasn't my first choice. #3 daughter is still getting over a bug, my wife's not entirely well - and I'm not going to see what happens the cough-and sneeze act my respiratory tract is working on, after I drive it in an unheated van for two hours, schmooze with a few dozen kinfolk, and then keep it well-chilled for another two hours.

Interesting though the experiment might be.

#2 daughter came home from college last night. With a sack full of laundry. I suppose that traditions must be maintained. And, knowing my wife, #2 daughter will do at least a laundry-load's-worth of work while she's here.

#2 daughter and #3 daughter had an extended talk, later in the evening. At least, I assume that's what was going on. The light was on in #3 daughter's bedroom later than usual.

#1 daughter arrived this morning, and left with #2 daughter and our son. They're getting a ride with their grandpa, to the get-together.

This makes two years in a row that I've missed the Christmas party. Last year, I was recovering from hip replacement. This year, I'm playing dodge-em with something like a cold. At least the health situation is going in the right direction: next year I may make it.

As we say in Minnesota, it could be worse.

A Woodpile, a Skunk, and Dynamite: Remembering the Good Old Days

I discussed (ranted, actually) about how educators are protecting children from tag, touch football, and other dangerous games in an earlier post.

Now, something completely different.

My wife's mother told her kids about the time a skunk got in the school's woodpile.

Kids had noticed the skunk while playing before school. They didn't want the skunk around. At some point, the skunk found shelter in a woodpile stacked against the wall of the school.

It was an impasse: The kids were determined to get the skunk out before school started, and the skunk was determined to stay in the comparative safety of the woodpile.

So, one of the students went home, came back with some dynamite and blasting caps, and planted a charge under the woodpile. After the blast the skunk, the woodpile, and some of the wall's paint, were gone.

I don't know what would happen after that unauthorized blasting on (and of) school property these days. Back then, the school authorities made the junior demolition squad paint the wall they'd damaged.

We're Told That:
Obesity is Rampant, World-Wide,
Putting Our Children's Health in Peril.
Traditional Games are Banned in Recess

What is wrong with this picture?!

I'm not making this up. "USA Today's" " 'Not it!' More schools ban games at recess" tells about the latest thing in education: getting rid of dangerous things like "tag" and touch football.

This year, playing tag at recess was banned at elementary schools in Cheyenne, WY, and Spokane, WA. Soccer and touch football are verboten at other schools. They're following the lead of schools in
  • Wichita, KS
  • San Jose, CA
  • Beaverton, OR
  • Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Years ago, dodge ball was too rough and dangerous.

Now it's tag that's too risky.

This does not make sense.
  • Obesity is a Global Crisis!
  • Our Children's health is in peril!
  • We must encourage our children to exercise!
  • Don't play tag, touch football, soccer, or dodge ball at recess!
If this keeps up, kids will be required to line up during recess, do isometric exercises, and close their eyes tight - so that the weaker kids aren't traumatized by seeing others doing better.

This isn't an issue here in Sauk Centre, yet. Tucked away here in central Minnesota, we aren't at the cutting edge of crazy ideas.

Playing football and dodge ball aren't among my precious childhood memories. Being a cripple took the edge off my appreciation of these games. On the other hand, I wasn't particularly traumatized. My classmates were quite willing to let me opt out of the games - and I found a work-around for Phy Ed's dodge ball requirement.

I dodged until I was in a corner or against the wall, turned, and let the ball bounce off me. Hitting a stationary target that's waiting patiently to get hit isn't much fun, so I didn't have to worry about more than about one bounce-off.

Of course, American culture wasn't as nervously risk-averse then.

The idea that tag is too dangerous for kids to play brings up an interesting question: What kind of world do educators think they're preparing kids for?

If you live in one of the more cautious parts of the world, and think there's something crazy about banning children's games, you're not alone. The American Association for the Child's Right to Play (IPA USA) is the USA affiliate of International Play Association promoting the child's right to play.

It's nice to know that America isn't the only place with crazy people making decisions for the rest of us.

My rant's over. If you're still reading, thanks for indulging me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thursday: Routine Errand Becomes Day-Brightener

Today was mostly routine. My wife talked with #2 daughter on the phone, Our son went to school, #1 daughter is still looking for work, and #3 daughter is still trying to shake some sort of bug.

On the other hand, there was a little variety in the day's routine.

I took the van to a garage, and learned about several options for getting more heat into the passenger space:
  • Have a pump replaced - it costs about $500 USD
  • Put a sheet of cardboard over part of the radiator during cold weather
I'm opting for the cardboard.

And, I picked up some office supplies at the Wal-Mart supercenter. Going down one of the aisles, I passed a mother with two kids in her cart. The girl was sitting in the front of the cart, the boy stood in the center. The sides of the cart were about chest-high for him, and he had a hand on each side.

Until I came in sight. His eyes locked on my face, and got very wide as his jaw dropped slightly. He raised on hand to point at me.

I try to be polite to people, so I said "hi" to him, paused a moment, and walked down the aisle. About three paces later I heard the phrase "Santa Claus" behind me.

When I told my wife about the meeting, she said that I couldn't trim my beard until after Christmas.

This is a kids-eye view of me. I don't know: That's a serious Santa, at best.

Wednesday: A Safe Deposit Box and a Bathroom Floor

I think we're just about done with Christmas cards. I took care of the family's Christmas letter earlier this week. To be honest, my wife wrote it: I just keyed it in and printed enough copies.

Our #1 daughter spent most of the day here in Sauk Centre. My wife had her clean the bathroom floor, so she should still feel 'at home' here.

#1 daughter and I drove to the bank, to use the family's safe deposit box there. I hadn't planned on getting out today, but the cold air and snow don't seem to have done any harm. Next stop was Coborns grocery. They've got items she can't seem to find in Alex, where she's living.

#1 daughter stayed for supper: she said she wanted the liver. The two of us talked while I checked out a few things online, then it was time for her to go.

#3 daughter is on the mend, I think.

My wife and #2 daughter had an extended talk on the phone this evening. It's finals week, and I understand that there's good news in Moorhead. #2 should be back - this weekend, I think. But, I could be wrong. There's a reason that my wife maintains the family schedule.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday: Good News, Not-Entirely-Good News

I'm definitely under the weather. A five-hour afternoon nap isn't part of my routine, but today it felt pretty good. A bowl of chicken soup at noon was good, too.

On the other hand, yesterday our son reminded me of what we called "bedtime routine," where I'd read to him from a comic when he went to bed. We abandoned that routine when I started having those operations in 2006.

I had assumed that he had grown out of such things, but that apparently isn't the case. We started re-reading the first "Garfield" comic tonight. Returning to the old routine is a nostalgic treat for me. Since our son is developing new skills in reading and evaluating writing, we're having some interesting discussions of the "Garfield" strip's development now.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday: Another Week, Another Set of Antibiotics

Step throat isn't fun. Our son is over it, but my wife and #3 daughter still have the bug: or something that acts a whole lot like it.

I haven't joined in, so far: but at least I started running a fever today. Those family experts say that fathers should get involved with what the rest of the family is doing: and it looks like I'm starting to take their advice.

I picked up another set of antibiotics for the ladies this afternoon.

My hat's off to my wife - a quite common condition for me. She's seen to it that we get fed, and makes sure other can't-wait chores are done. On the other hand, the ladies of this household have been watching an unusual number of game shows lately.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Sunday: A Day of Rest,

Nothing from yesterday. I knew I missed something.

This week's Saturday was busier than most. Our #3 daughter is still under the weather, so she and my wife stayed home. Our son and I went to Mass: Saturday was when Catholics, including this family, celebrate the Immaculate Conception of Mary. We went to the mid-day mass. Which gave us a few hours to get lunch in and do chores before going to Sunday's Mass: the one at 5:00 Saturday afternoon.

That non-standard schedule meant that I didn't grill yesterday. Lunch at noon would have been crazy-early, or too late. If I'd tried to grill supper, we'd have been eating at around 6:30: which is late for this family.

I got the Christmas list updated, but didn't finish work on the Christmas letter. Which is something I'll need to do tonight.

My Sunday was off to a relatively early start. I was in the van with our son, rolling down the driveway, at about 9:30. He was going to the Soo Bahk Do tournament in St. Cloud, about 45 miles down the road. My wife and #3 daughter were going to go, but that wasn't going to happen.

Our son got a third-place trophy for his forms, or hyungs (karate-speak for a series of pre-determined sequence of blocks and attacks against imaginary opponents). On one hand, there were four in his age/class group. On the other hand, he'd been boosted into a higher age group - probably because of his size.

I was asked to take photos for another competitor from Sauk Centre (from Japan, actually, but she's living here in central Minnesota for now). Since she and our son were doing their hyungs at the same time, he's in the photos, too: so I may be able to get pictures of his work.

I can't believe I forgot my camera.

Our son took a nap (three short naps, he corrected me) on the way back to Sauk Centre. Without letting go of that trophy. He's pleased with winning that.

I took a two hour nap when we got home. Then, hurray! I grilled lunch. Supper, actually. The sun had just set, the air was a brisk 5 degrees (Fahrenheit), and our neighbors had their Christmas lights lit.


Saturday, December 8, 2007

Friday: The Week Ends in a Scramble

A bulletin that I edit for the local Knights of Columbus is in the mail now. Between doing counts and postal forms, getting the thing to the post office, and getting a number of household errands done, I spent the day being busy - and getting almost nothing done in my online business. I've been catching up this evening.

This weekend should be interesting. We'll be going to church twice tomorrow: partly because a few family members are in the choir. That probably means I won't be grilling on Saturday.

Now, it's time to work on the family's Christmas letter. That my wife wrote.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Thursday: Christmas Program at School, Snow in the Driveway

I had a pretty good day. Our son is back in school. The way he was bouncing off the wall yesterday, my wife was quite justified in telling him that she was ordering him back.

After he came home, he and I went to Fleet Supply, a sort of department store geared for an agricultural community, to find snow pants for him. It took us an hour, but we came home with a pair that will fit: with a little work.

My wife has set up a Christmas scene under the tree. I think it's a good idea, but our son discussed the matter with her. He seems to favor the traditional presents-under-the tree approach.

After supper, I drove to school, taking our son for the Christmas show, my wife and #3 daughter for Soo Bahk Do, and me to watch the show. After the show, I called home - my wife and daughter were there already. They came over with the van to pick me and the boy up.

Then we got stuck, trying to get into the driveway. My wife, son, and I got the wheels shoveled out in a lot less time than I thought it would.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tuesday: Due to Lack of Interest,
Monday was Cancelled this Week

My wife took daughter #3 and our son to the clinic Monday, and found out what's been making them feel miserable. They've got strep. Strep throat, to be a little more formal. Streptococcal sore throat, if one is going to be downright stuffy.

That kept my boy out of school yesterday: and meant that he won't be Comet in the show. He took it quite well. Being distracted by strep helped, I think.

The kids are taking antibiotics now. Most bugs don't warrant that sort of response, but strep does, in my opinion. My wife had me pick up medication for her at Wal-Mart today. Looks like she's hopping on the strep bandwagon.

I suppose my turn's next. That might explain why I've been feeling the way I do.

I didn't repeat Sunday's experience at the end of the driveway again, but I came close. It took two tries to get out, on my way to Wal-Mart. Coming back, I came within an ace of blocking the driveway again.

So, when I get inside, my son asks me if I picked up his book at the library.

I'd forgotten.

So, back into the van, out the driveway, and to the library. Ash street is plowed, but slick. Winter driving rules definitely apply. At the library, I learned that my boy's book was in - at St. Cloud. That's about 45 miles away. We've got a regional library system, and somehow his book had been flagged for delivery at the central location.

Back to the van. With about a half-foot of snowfall and stuff from the street near the curb, I had to be extra-careful at that point of my walk. Which meant that I was bent over for a good view of the ground, carefully planting each foot and my cane to ensure solid footing, and taking it slowly.

I'm really glad to live in a place like this. I was about half-way through the curb crossing process when a young woman asked if I needed assistance.

Snow in the driveway failed to stop me, for the fourth time today. Snowplows have been going up and down Ash street, a mixed blessing:
  • The street is relatively free of snow
  • Thanks to repeated shaving of the snow, it's a trifle slippery in spots
  • Each time a plow goes by, those ramparts in driveways get refreshed.
I'm glad those plows are out, just the same: four inches or so of snow on an arterial street, would be a major headache, at best.

We got an automated call from Sauk Centre Schools this afternoon: School was closing at the normal time, but all after-school activities were canceled. Smart move.

I hope to have some photos on "Sauk Centre Journal," later on.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sunday: Snow, Advent, Grilling, and Family

Our #1 daughter got a ride to Sauk Centre again today, so we saw her in church. Technically, I saw her in church. My boy and #3 daughter aren't feeling too well, and my wife decided to stay with them. Good idea, I'd say.

I know better than this: city plows were out last night, clearing the streets, and putting up a rampart at the end of each driveway. Including ours. It wasn't much of a barrier, but this morning it was enough.

There was enough traffic on Ash street for me to be slow and careful, backing out the driveway. Too slow, as it turns out. I got the van's front wheels into the gutter, and there they stayed. Frustrating. I had a limited number of minutes left before Mass started, and - rather more urgently - the family van's rear end was sticking a couple of yards out into the street.

As if to add to the pathos, the garage door had decided that it would close, and then open again. I remember when people lifted and lowered their own garage doors: but we get used to these mechanical servants operating flawlessly.

I was considering my (limited) options, when a family we know showed up. Two of them were trying to push the van out while I steered.

Around that time, a young man I don't know showed up and helped push. Also, a young woman parked across the street, walked over and suggested that it might be better if she drove.

By that time, floor mats had been removed from the van and were in use as traction surfaces.

The young lady got behind the wheel, the three neighbors pushed, and the van was free. I finally caught on: that young woman weighs about half what I do, maybe less. That likely made the difference.

The rest of the trip to and from church was uneventful, happily.

#1 daughter and I came home together, she shoveled a square yard or so in front of the grill, and stayed inside to warm up while I went out to grill the burgers.

#1 daughter's ride showed up after lunch, the rest of the day went quietly, apart from some snowmobiles whizzing by. I hope that our son is feeling better tomorrow.

I'll have a few photos of this winter's first serious snow at my Sauk Centre Journal: by about 5:00 Monday afternoon - Central time, USA."

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Saturday: More Snow on the Grill

That "winter storm" the weather service forecast came. Now, they're talking about freezing drizzle in the wee hours of the morning. That I can do without.

My wife had the two kids who are still at home fill in measurements on a rough plan she made of the living room floor. We've lived here for about seventeen years, I think, and the carpeting in this house has been on her 'out' list nearly from day one. She's got a point: wood or linoleum is easier to keep clean and dust-free. It's not a 'Martha Stewart' thing: Quite a few people in this family have one sort of chemical sensitivity or another, and carpets are pretty good dust-holders.

I grilled lunch, after using a ice scraper as a shovel. For some reason, we've got the shovels stored outside, in a shed. I'm not sure that that's the best place for them. On the up side, using that six-inch-wide ice scraper as a shovel worked pretty well on the three or four inches of snow we had - and sharpened the scraper's blade by scraping it on the concrete.

I went to the Wal-Mart today with our son, partly to pick up prescriptions, partly to get some winter wear. For one thing, my gloves got close to worn out last season. I found a pair that fit: Since the boy needs gloves, too, I checked to see what size he needs, at least compared to me. I put up my right hand, he put his left palm up to mine.

Our hands are the same size. That's not exactly true. His thumb is longer than mine. He's eleven now, and catching up to me in height, too.

Our #3 daughter gave a guitar lesson again today. I hope she gets more students. I think she's good at teaching.

#2 daughter had a talk with my wife, and #3 daughter, and this evening #1 daughter called and talked to me. I like the telephone.
I usually put what I have to say about my attempts to start an online business over on "Starting a Small Business Without Losing My Mind," but part of this item belongs here.

The webmaster of Barn Furniture, an online furniture retailer, left a comment on this blog's Thursday post, "Thursday: More Family Stuff."

Barn Furniture looked interesting, so I checked out their Home Office Furniture section: wishful thinking on my part: I've got a home office, but no budget for new furniture. They also has quite a decent display of Bedroom Furniture, Amish Furniture, and other breakouts of their selection on their website.

(I wrote a little more about Barn Furniture, at "Of Selling Furniture Online, Marketing, and a Linkback Contest.")

Friday: Tomorrow I Grill - Maybe

The weather forecast says there's a winter storm coming, and I'm inclined to believe it. It feels like that sort of weather's coming.

At least, that explanation for the way I feel demands less acknowledgment of personal responsibility than looking at my staying up until a ridiculous hour last night, getting a post done in another blog.

My wife had a long talk on the telephone with our #2 daughter: the one still in college. And, a shorter talk with #1 daughter. Somehow, my daughters seem more comfortable talking about life with my wife, than with me.

My wife and I will be getting to the Christmas show at different times, as usual. It's not a bad way to arrange things: this way, there's always someone to look after the house, handle phone calls, and all that.

It's getting late, again, and I am not going to repeat last night's events.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday: More Family Stuff

My son came home from school today with good news. A good friend of his still likes him.

The two of them had been rough housing yesterday, and our son tells me that he caused his friend's tooth to come out. The tooth, or, rather, a reasonable facsimile, is back in place today.

That news on the friend front was a relief to both of us. My boy had been concerned about how his friend would take the tooth incident: and I remembered how easy it can be to mis-manage a friendship. Our son may be better at that sort of thing than I've been.

My wife and #3 daughter were out of town for most of the day, so I had the treat of being home when the boy got home from school again.

Or, rather, home from rehearsal. They're still practicing: a week and a half to go until performances. A little less, actually.

Wednesday: Morning, Afternoon, and Evening

My wife and our #3 daughter were out this morning, afternoon, and evening for music teaching, learning, and practice. In order, they got together with my father-in-law, who's learning keyboard from my wife. #3 daughter's guitar lesson is in the afternoon, and this evening both of those two went to practice with a band.

Since I've still got an open schedule (optimism-speak for still without full time employment), I was home when our son got back from school. This is a day when he doesn't have practice for that Christmas thing.

He and I talked a bit after he returned. He's got a new kind of monster dreamed up: and is pleased with how gross it is.

My wife cut my hair: I don't remember when's the last time a member of this family got a profession hair job. Mine had grown out to about two inches, overdue for mowing. Now, it's back to about a quarter-inch. As usual, the beard is up to me.

I've seen these 'typical' American household budgets, with a hundred dollars a month set aside for clothing, another hundred for entertainment: that sort of thing. My first thought, back when, was that the people who thought them up were crazy.

No so, my wife said. This family's finances and living style are nowhere near the fiftieth percentile. Since we've been married, I haven't had a job that required a zoot suit with reet pleat, three-piece with button-down shirt, or whatever outfit is required for "serious" business.

Can't say I'm sorry about that.

Enough of that. If I keep thinking about cash flow, this post might get depressing.

I talked to my father on the phone today, letting him know that we had a particular item that had been in his household for a while. He'd handed it over to us some time ago. There's a lot going on at his end, right now, and I suspect that his memory is starting to develop gaps.

That's life.

The two of us had a good talk. One thing I'm grateful for is that my father and I never had the sort of late-adolescence falling out that so many people experience. That's not to say we got along famously: We're very much alike, and have the sort of temperament that seems to work best when distributed on a one-to-a-household basis.

Two of our kids are a lot like me. My father once referred to the phrase, "I hope you have a son/daughter just like you!" - and added, "the curse works!" As it happens, #1 daughter and son are the two who are like me. So far, we're getting along about as well as my father and I did. Maybe a little better, since I had a little help from my father in learning how to deal with having another 'me' in the house.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday: Time to Break Out the Winter Coats

I asked my wife to break out my winter coat from storage today. It's getting nippy: about 15 degrees Fahrenheit. That's about nine below, Celsius.

Next thing you know, I'll be wanting gloves and shoes. So far, I'm doing okay with socks and flip-flops.

Our son is still in the Christmas show. That makes him about an hour late each day. He's still excited about his part. My wife and #3 daughter found reindeer antlers (horns?) at Wal-Mart today. #3 daughter was very taken by them, and since they were cheap - make that inexpensive - she and my wife got three.

The things are cute.

I had a good chat with #1 daughter this evening. She called, from Alexandria, and we talked about a colorful Japanese ruler she'd learned about: Oda Nobunaga. She's been very Japan-conscious lately, a by-product of her interest in anime and manga.

I got some writing done today, and made what I trust is not a futile gesture of organizing a square foot or so of my work area.

On a civic note, the traffic lights at the south end of Ash street are working again today.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Monday: Another Week Begins, and Countdown to Christmas

I spent two an a half hours at choir practice tonight. It didn't seem that long: it helps that I like this season's music.

Our son is still in the Christmas show, despite missing rehearsals last week. That's the good news. The bad news is that, one more missed practice and he's out. We didn't have much choice, keeping him out of school: that boy was genuinely ill.

Christmas is bearing down: less than a month away. Happily, my wife gets the gift acquisition done early: at rummage sales, for the most part, I think.

The wind's blowing around the house: a cosy sound, as I've said before. A little snow was scudding across yards and streets earlier. It's picturesque in town. When you meet that sort of thing traveling cross-country, it's a little less so.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunday: That was a Good Day

Daughter #2 is back at college now; the cousins/niece and nephews, and their parents who came up to be with Grandpa are back at their home, down the road; and my wife had a short chat with #1 daughter on the phone this evening.

I even got to grill hamburgers for supper. This family spent the afternoon at Grandpa's, too, which delayed my grilling.

We did, however, have a good get-together. One of my nephews spent quite a bit of the time, trying to fix part of the power connection for his laptop. I don't blame him for spending the time at that project: replacing the thing costs $55; and I don't know that my brother-in-law has quite the set of specialized tools my father-in-law does. Yet.

All things, considered, this has been a good Thanksgiving weekend.

Sunday: of Church and Toenails

This morning, getting ready to go to Mass, a cracked toenail reminded me that it needed attention. Again.

I'd hoped to avoid this, with a simple nail-clipping yesterday. No such luck.

Time for more drastic measures.

I asked my wife if I could have nail polish. It's great stuff, for reinforcing the nail until it could grow out a little, and heal itself.

Knowing that there were two daughters, and a niece, in the house, I should have realized how this would end.

After some discussion of a high-pitched and giggling variety, they decided on the color that I'd use. Thankfully, socks cover the toe, and the nail polish does its job, no matter what color it is.

It's pink.

Saturday: Two Daughters, a Son, and a Cousin

Actually, the visitor today is my niece, but I think of her as "one of the cousins," since that's her relationship to our kids.

Daughter #2 came home this afternoon, after a visit with Grandpa. (More relational title confusion. He's her grandfather, my father, and my wife's father-in-law.) She had good memories, and a car-full of stuff from his household. He and we have been transferring material out of his house on each visit, so that there'll be less to move when he does move out.

Daughters #2 and 3 had a great time, visiting, with my wife contributing to the conversation. I was taking a nap through part of that.

Daughter #2 collected me a little later, so that I could make a video of her giving #3 daughter a trombone lesson. I think that worked out rather well: it looks like the files all came out okay. Now, I need to patch them together and put them in a format that the college can read.

The cousin came over around supper time. Daughter #2 collected her from my wife's father's house. The cousin/niece's family is visiting there today. And tomorrow, I assume. There's a fair number of them, so that Grandpa will get thoroughly visited this weekend.

My wife told me why we ran out of light bulbs.

When I replace light bulbs, I put the defunct bulbs into that cardboard cover that the new bulbs come in. That's a perfectly reasonable thing to do: by securing them that way, I ensure that they won't roll away, and quite likely roll off something and break.

After listening carefully to my wife's description of the situation, I now realize that it would probably be a good idea to promptly dispose of the spent light bulbs, and the covers.

Apparently, I haven't been doing that. It's much easier to put them on, say, the kitchen table, where I'll remember to throw them away. Later.

Anonymous members of the household, seeing unattended boxed light bulbs, naturally put them back in storage. And I don't seem to notice the burned-out light bulbs that aren't there.

Which explains why we've got quite a few dead light bulbs, stored carefully where the new ones should be.

Happily, I have a patient wife: and she's used to me by now.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday After Thanksgiving:
Getting Ready for Christmas

#3 daughter and our son spent much of this morning, practicing for a play they're planning to do with cousins at the Christmas get-together. While they doing their rehearsal, #1 daughter and my wife had a good talk on the phone.

#2 daughter is with my father today, and will be tomorrow, too. She called in and talked with #3 and my wife later in the day. I'm glad about two things: the communications technology that makes talks like these possible; and my wife's budget sense and diligence that makes marathon chats like those affordable.

While all that was going on, I was doing something of a technologically frustrating sort, not getting something to work for a website I maintain.

Normally, we'd have been going up, sometime around Thanksgiving, to see my father. As it is, the part of the family that lives in Sauk Centre is either ill, or recovering, or getting sick. I'm in one of the last two conditions: I'm not sure which.

Since my father is in his upper eighties, needs a moderately portable oxygen unit, and is dealing with deteriorating health, bringing bugs into his household didn't seem prudent.

What happened today made me particularly glad that we have a modest collection of kids.
  • #3 daughter helped keep our son, the youngest of the lot, productively occupied for much of the day
  • #2 daughter both represented the family at my dad's place, and helped him with housekeeping
  • #1 daughter wasn't so obviously useful, but we don't need to working at something all the time
I almost forgot: #3 daughter and son have the (artificial) Christmas tree up, and decorated, strung lights on a railing, and got other decorations up. This may be the earliest that the house has been Christmasized.

That tree is new-to-us. It's previous home had been with my father.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Day!

Giant floating pumpkins and a pair of people on a gobbler built for two are ready for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Thanks to television, I can see part of it without dealing with New York traffic.

My son and I, both at our laptops, have been monitoring the TV. We had a good laugh, when the channel we're watching showed someone in their control room holding up a paper plate with "FEED ME" written on it.

Now, it's time to go to Mass. See you later, and have a good Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

A few minutes early, that is.

Our son bounced up to me around his bed-time today, with the news that he was feeling well. Despite the timing, I believe him. He's been clearly better today, and is about due to get over whatever was ailing him. We'll see how he is tomorrow.

I'm sincerely hoping that I'm not following my wife's lead. She's gotten around to running a fever. Daughters #1 and 3 still have some sort of bug.

It's said that families should share things, but this get-sick-together thing is getting annoying.

This too shall pass, as the fellow said about a kidney stone.

After reading about Seattle teaching kids that Thanksgiving is a day of mourning, I realized how important a Cause can be. Inspired by this resurgence of relevance, I created this poster. Maybe it can be the Cause for next Thanksgiving in some city.

Our Son Isn't the Only One
Who's Sick This Week

Our son tells me that one of his fellow-students players has been sick all week, too. Both of them play Runescape, so they've been communicating through the game.

Our boy is a little frustrated at this point: he's running his anti-virus software, and the scan is taking a great deal longer than he expected.

(Runescape is an online game I mentioned last week.)

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

I missed yesterday's post. Our son is still ill enough to be out of school, but better. I picked up his homework yesterday, so he's keeping up his studies.

#1 daughter called a few minutes ago. She's got a cold, apparently. Daughters #2 and 3 seem to be doing okay, and my wife isn't admitting any indisposition. Of course, it takes a lot for her to admit that she's not up to doing her job.

Me, I'm hoping that I'm not coming down with a (*sniff* - choo!) cold.

Aside from that, things are fine. I called an employment place in Alexandria yesterday: no job now, but they said that I should call back early next week. Finding a job, when you're a fifty-something, physically impaired guy with mostly clerical, writing, and graphics experience isn't quite a slam-dunk proposition. But, something should come up, sooner or later.

Actually, getting laid off in the spring of 2006 was very handy. All that free time gave me time to get long-overdue hip replacements, have carpal tunnel and 'trigger finger' work done on my wrists and hands.

I spent a lot of time in the shop last year.

More households got their Christmas displays up in the last couple of days. Sauk Centre got those over-the-street garlands up, wreaths on the light poles, and those nice, safe, generic "HAPPY HOLIDAY" signs over Main Street. I've only seen the south one, but I assume the crews got the northern counterpart up, too.

I hope nobody objects to the red and green lights.

That's not as much of a joke as you might think. Fort Collins, Colorado, may not have red and green lights in 2008. The Coloradoan wrote that the city's Holiday Display Task Force wants to limit the city displays to white lights and "secular winter symbols" like snowflakes and icicles.

The Ft. Collins city council voted to keep their discriminatory colored lights, 6-1.

That's probably just as well. If they'd gone to a white-only policy, someone would probably insist on yellow, red, and black lights, too. And the icicles and snowflakes would have to go, since they'd suggest that people whose ancestors came from equatorial regions were unappreciated.

Sorry about that harangue.

Come to think of it, black lights in Christmas displays could be pretty cool: Anybody remember those groovy black light posters, back in the sixties?

Back to Sauk Centre, here's what one household has for a Christmas display, so far.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Christmas Season Begins: Before Thanksgiving?

One of my wife's back molars broke (again) as the the weekend began. She put up with a ragged edge until today. The dentist says that if one more filling breaks in that tooth, it'll have to go.

Our son is feeling better today. Not well: but better. He's concerned about missing rehearsal for the Christmas musical. I'm not sure how that will work out.

Good grief! This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day.

And more households, and businesses, have Christmas decorations up. Sauk Centre was putting up the overhead garlands this afternoon. I haven't spotted the nice, safe, "Happy Holidays" banner yet.

The church choir has started practicing for Christmas. I was the only one going tonight. Among other factors, my wife didn't think she should leave our son.

Not bad, for a Monday

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Damp Autumn, Outdoor Grilling,
Sunday Afternoon Naps,
And Thanksgiving This Year

If the snow that came down early this afternoon had been rain, it would have been a drizzle. It was drizzle, a little later. The grass doesn't seem to be dormant yet: yards around here were a lot greener around sunset than they had been before.

Not that "sunset" was a very definite time. We've had one of those dark gray autumn days.

We went to Mass this morning, I grilled lunch, looked up outdoor gas grills at Wal-Mart, and took a long nap. I think my wife's serious about getting a new one. Those flames shooting out the bottom might have something to do with it.

I was up in time for supper, enjoyed supper for the family, and then settled down to get some reading done while my wife, #3 daughter, and son went to Soo Bahk Do. He was complaining about a stomach-ache, but it didn't seem bad enough to keep him from going.

He and the ladies were back in about half the time they usually take for Soo Bahk Do. I was talking with #1 daughter on the phone. She's been feeling under the weather lately, and wanted some company.

My first clue that the ladies and my son were back was the sound of the van pulling in. The second was #3 daughter scooting through the kitchen, and scooting back with a plastic bucket.

I'm just glad that I hadn't told him that exercise can help upset stomachs, before he went. Under the circumstances, he took the way he's feeling pretty well.

Aside from that, it's been a fine day.

Assuming that our son's actually got a bug, and didn't eat something regrettable, this will put a severe crimp in the family's Thanksgiving plans. My father, "Grandpa Gill," is almost exactly thirty years older than I am. That puts him in his mid-eighties.

He's using an oxygen generator, and careful management of his activities, to keep going, and adding a diseased family to his environment doesn't seem like the best idea right now.

Saturday: Snow on the Grill, Kids in the House

I goofed off for most of today.

My son talked to me before I was actually awake this morning. He wanted to know if it was okay for him to set up a gadget that should connect another computer to the internet.

I said, "go ahead, but don't break the seal on the package."

I knew that was nonsense about half-way through saying it. My son noted that he probably should have waited until all of me was functioning. And, I admitted that he'd have to break the seal to get at the gadget.

We had snow overnight: what I call cat-track snow. Most of it was gone by the time I went out to grill lunch, except for sheltered spots and the north side of things. Sooner or later, it'll snow and not go away for several months. I can hear the wind outside right now, whooshing through the trees. I like that sound, providing I'm in a warm spot.

A friend of our son's was over this afternoon. They played with small metal and plastic cars, for the most part. At least, that's what I noticed. I'm not sure how they got them to go so fast. And, of course, the two pre-teen boys made an incredible amount of noise.

#3 daughter handled the issue of being in the same house with the two boys quite well. At the point where they had found a whistle, she diplomatically suggested that they go outside for a while. I think they took her up on that.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It was Friday When I Thought of Writing This

Thursday wasn't one of my stellar days. I wrote about the work/business part of it over in Starting a Small Business Without Losing My Mind."

The high point of the day for me was going to our son's parent-teacher conference. That was the first extended conversation I'd had with his teacher. We covered the doing-well/doing not-so-well stuff, with only a few major digressions: not bad, when I'm involved in a conversation.

Back home. I reported on what we talked about at the p-t conference, enjoyed supper, and got back to the frustrating processes that had been plaguing me for two days.

Around 10:30, I'd gotten around to my second try at making an animated gif file out of a video clip. It's simple, as long as you know what you're doing. Which I, at that point, didn't.

After a while, I figured that I'd better check the time. it was about 2 in the morning. No wonder I was feeling a bit sub-par.

This morning (I'm writing this really late Friday night), I discovered that there's a difference between now, and when I was in college the first time around. Somehow, the intervening thirty-some years haven't improved my ability to spring back from an all-nighter.

Good grief. I did it again, today.

Good night. Or, more accurately, good morning.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wednesday: Big Day in This Household

Our #1 daughter came into town today, as she usually does on Wednesdays. She's got a regular routine that brings her to town, and while she's here, she stops in. My wife had work for her, as usual: this time up in the attic, creating chaos out of order.

Or, rather, the other way around.

#1 daughter found some time to talk with me, too, and the two of us picked up an extension cord for me at Wal-Mart. She looked for some storage devices, unsuccessfully. I knocked around the electronics section, but mercifully didn't buy anything.

My wife and our #3 daughter went to the latter's guitar lesson this afternoon. She's in an interesting position: she's still learning, from a guitarist in Osakis, and she's teaching guitar here in Sauk Centre.

Our son and #3 daughter performed a little of his part in the Christmas musical for #2 daughter, over the phone this afternoon. The two at this end aren't too bad at harmony. Proud dad talking, there. I heard one of "Comet the comic's" jokes: "What do snowmen eat for breakfast? Snowflakes!"

My wife and #3 daughter would have practiced with a music group tonight, but that regular meeting is on hold for a while.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Comet the Comic and an Online Game

This afternoon was almost a write-off, in terms of getting things done: although I did get my working digital camera back. And, in working order.

Our son got home about 5:30. He's got the part of Comet the comic in the elementary school's (Christmas? Winter?) show. I also learned the show's name: "North Pole Star." He took sheet music home with him, and started practicing this evening.

An online role playing game, Runescape, got popular in Sauk Centre recently. From what #3 daughter and our son say, quite a number of the 100,000 or so people playing it right now are probably in Sauk Centre.

Oddly enough, neither of this household's at-home kids are playing, at this moment.

I'm a bit concerned about how much time they've been spending, playing it. For that matter, I'm a bit concerned about how much I'm playing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday: a Mild Case This Week

Our #2 daughter talked with #3 daughter and my wife tonight. Her music/education major has evolved into a music/Latin major. I'm not sorry that she's abandoned plans to teach in public schools. There were two incidents, both involving knives, if I recall correctly, involving student teachers this year.

This may be a foolish thought, but maybe American public schools are looking for teachers in the wrong places. Based on my limited experience, and what I've heard from #2, retiring Marine drill sergeants might make good teachers. Providing that the school administrations didn't undercut their authority, they'd have the skills, and the strength of will, required to maintain a semblance of order.

Don't get me wrong: the local schools seem to be okay, at least on the elementary level. But, either my daughter and I have been unusually "lucky" in experience (direct in my case, indirect, thank God, in hers), or there are 'way too many bad schools.

Enough of that. The way I'm feeling, I may be coming down with a cold.

On a more positive note, they're holding tryouts for the elementary school Christmas show tomorrow. (Or holiday, or winter, or whatever term we're supposed to use now. I lost track a few revisions back.) My son's got his eye on a particular part: we'll see how he does.

The school puts on a pretty good show each year. I'm looking forward to it.

My wife's re-organization of the household is moving along, with lift-and-carry assistance from our son.

Me, I'm trying to make a business work, and looking for a paying job. I had a nibble on the latter today, but I think it got away.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's the 11th day of the 11th month: Armistice Day, or "Veterans Day," as it's called now. I wrote a little about this remembrance in "Sauk Centre this Season / Armistice Day," a few years ago. I know that Armistice Day has global significance, but I am an American citizen: hence the picture.

Another week is winding down. My wife, son, and one of our daughters is back from Soo Bahk Do, and I'm getting ready for Monday.

It's been a nice, relaxed Sunday. Our eldest daughter caught a ride to Sauk Centre this morning, celebrated Mass with us, and rode back in the early afternoon. I like these meetings. She kept me company while I grilled lunch. Today's experience went better: no singed fingers.

My son will have to find a new place to work on those computers. He's been using about a quarter of the living room floor, and today my wife told him he'd have to find a new place to work. Later, she told me that she hadn't quite finished clearing a space for him elsewhere.

As I write this, our #3 daughter is talking with our #2 daughter on the telephone. #2 is at college, in Moorhead, some 125 miles up the road. Thanks to my wife's due diligence, we have a phone plan that gives us unlimited long distance calling.

Daughters #2 and #3 are particularly glad of that. They like to talk, and #3 likes being able to check in with 'mom.' Isn't technology great?

She's done quite a job in the basement. The room below the living room is now nearly clutter free, and better organized than it's been in a long time.
With all the history-making events going on in the world, what's happening in one household here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, seems a small thing: like a little exhibit tucked away in the corner of one wing of a museum.

Memorials of major events remind me of this.

But, it's my household, my family: and so this little cluster of humanity is a big part of my world.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday: Crafty Backyard Grills;
Kids and Computers; Guitar Lesson

I grilled lunch today, and discovered depths of deception previously unknown in my old reliable grill. Just as I was getting the burgers scraped off the grill and onto a plate, the flames reached out and touched me.

Thanks to the after-effects of carpal tunnel syndrome, the thumb and first two fingers on my right hand are still fairly numb. More to the point, they don't sense heat.

Pain, however, is another matter. The pain receptors must be on another circuit.

So, my right middle finger experienced the inside of a tongue of flame for a fraction of a second. Then, having been heated sufficiently, those nerves which handle PAIN sent their special message up to headquarters. No damage done: but that hurt. Most of the neighborhood may know that it hurt. I wasn't diffident about my short, but very sincere, yell.

But the burgers were worth it. I like grilled meat.

My son has two defunct computers, and some spare parts, on the floor of the living room. He hopes to make one working computer out of the assortment. Today, he got the main power switch on one to work: a step in the right direction.

He says he wants to fix computers for a living, when the time comes. He's off to a good start.

My wife's feeling better. She came up from the basement this evening, face filter in place and leaning implements in hand. She's been organizing the house, one section at a time. With two kids and me at home, she'll won't run out of that sort of work soon.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Friday: I Forgot About the Gideons!

My son has finished his first week of the new quarter at school. Now, since it's Veteran's Day weekend, I suppose there'll be another long weekend. Not a problem for me: I may be able to talk my wife into letting me grill lunch Monday.

I definitely need to pay more attention, when making these posts.

Yesterday, after school, the Gideons were outside the school, passing out abbreviated Bibles (New Testament, Psalms, and Proverbs). I still have mine, from back when: mine's green, his is red, but they're the same little pocket-sized reference.

As my son explained, about getting the Bible outside, "they're not allowed in the school." I suppose I should be glad there's not some sort of 2,000-foot Christian-free zone around schools.

Anyway, he's impressed with his new acquisition, and with the fact that he found out how he could play an online game that he's too young for.

The Runescape TOS apparently says that kids under the cutoff age can play, if supervised by an adult. Not a bad idea, actually, so my wife and I took turns this afternoon and early evening, while he and #3 daughter played.

I've got a character in that online RPG (role playing game) too: *ahem* just to check it out, of course. ;)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thursday: Getting Back in the Habit

I see it's been quite a while since I updated this blog. High time I changed that.

My son had a four-day weekend: Monday and Tuesday this week were the school's quarter break. That was good news: I was able to grill lunch those days. I'd missed Saturday and Sunday: I was getting my son and a daughter up for a visit to Grandpa on those days.

#3 daughter and my son have been digging holes in the back yard. Lots of fun for them, and this household never aspired to a 'house beautiful' yard. We prefer the lived-in look.

(In case I haven't mentioned this before, I often refer to our three daughters as #1, #2, and #3. It's birth order: nothing to do with relative value or consideration.)

My wife spent quite a bit of October being sick: nothing serious, just enough to make her feel lousy, and drastically reduce her efficiency. She's getting better, I trust.

And, I see I've been neglecting this blog. That should end now. I've been reviewing my schedule: more about that in Starting a Small Business Without Losing My Mind.

My wife and the two kids who are still at home came back from Soo Bahk Do (related to Karate) a little while ago, I've got this written, and so it's time to sign off.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Wife and Daughter on the Phone:
Hypothetical Wedding Plans

My wife and one of our daughters is on the phone as I write this. Happily, we've got one of those phone plans that are affordable, and have unlimited long-distance time.

The daughter in question doesn't have a husband-in-process, yet, but the two ladies were discussing weddings and related topics anyway.

Just as well to review ahead of the crunch, I suppose.

Something I hadn't thought of came up: what to put the groom in. A tux is expensive to rent, and crazy expensive to buy. Besides, I learned, 'they always foul up the size.' There's photographic evidence of that: One of my brothers-in-law's wedding pictures show a marvelously ill-fitting tuxedo.

My wife had me get a suit for the wedding, so I could use the thing later.

Today, I found out why she tagged along for the selection and fitting.

I heard my wife of a quarter century tell one of our daughters that the daughter needs to take her guy to the store, make use he picks out something suitable, and then make sure that the fitting is done right.

'He won't ask your guy, he'll look at you,' my wife said, about the clothing store's employee and the fitting of the suit. About the groom-to-be, my said, "he might as well be a mannequin."

What can I say? She's right.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Now, Something Funny: Not My Own

I haven't made an entry in this blog for quite a while.

And I'm not going to now, either. This isn't so much a post, as a note about a page I found online.

It's a funny (very funny) quantified list of how men can keep a woman happy. Reasonable, realistic ways: like uncloging toilets, checking out noises in the night, and not coming home late, smelling of booze and cheap cigars.

As a man who has been married for over a quarter century, I recognize most of the points: even where they don't apply to either me or my wife.

With the caution that name of the index this list is in is at best regrettable, and that some of the points in the list are mildly off-color, here's "Make her happy."

"(note the full stop)

"In the world of romance, one single rule applies: Make the woman happy.
Do something she likes & you get points. Do something she dislikes &
points are subtracted...."

Monday, September 10, 2007

Good Health: Not the Worst Thing to Have

A member of an online community I'm involved in had very good news from a medical test recently. She designed a "badge," and asked that it be copied and display. Sounded like a good idea, so here it is.

There's more about the artist's experience at "A wish for you all!," on mrsnesbitt's place.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Second Day of School

Today, I discovered something important: It's not a good idea for a fifty-something guy, who's still exercising his way back from decades of arthritis, to do a brisk half-mile walk in this heat. It got up to around 95 yesterday, and wasn't much cooler today.

Oh, well. Live and learn.

Our #1 daughter came back for a few hours today. We talked her out of getting bangs: hardly the most earth-shaking decision in the world, but that's what family life is about.

Our son still thinks his teacher is great, and still doesn't like his arithmetic homework.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First Day of School

I'm running late, so this will be a very short post.

It's hot: around 95 this afternoon.

Our son came home from school with good news. He thinks his new teacher is great.

On the other hand, he was agonizing over his arithmetic homework tonight.

Our oldest daughter is still between jobs, but hopeful about at least one prospect.

And I have got to get some sleep.


Labor Day Weekend, Day 3

As a treat, my wife prepared shish kebab for me to grill this noon. It's the first time I've tried anything fancier than burgers, hot dogs, and the occasional baked potatoes plus chicken.

It turned out well: first of more experiments, I hope.

Apart from that, we had a rather un-Labor-Day-like Labor day. I got some work done, and chores were done.

And now, the day is done.

All in all, a good day.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Labor Day Weekend, Day 2

I suppose some families are traveling this weekend. Portions of ours were: our #2 daughter was up here Friday, and caught a ride back to college yesterday.

Today, I saw our #1 daughter at Mass. She had been offered a ride here from Alexandria, and decided to spend a few hours with the family. Another pleasant surprise. Even better, she seems to be (very nearly) over whatever bug she had.

I grilled lunch again, in company with #1 daughter. It's a good opportunity to relax, enjoy fresh air, and have some good family time.

Actually, the fresh air is dependent on my successfully dodging smoke from the grill. The breeze blew it straight toward me today, but I've learned to dodge and weave while grilling.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Labor Day Weekend, Day 1

Our #2 daughter is back at college. Her ride picked her up about 1:30 this afternoon, bringing us back to having two kids in the house. It's relatively quiet here now.

Grilling lunch today was a special treat, since #3 daughter was able to keep me company. We must have both been distracted, since she usually sees to it that I don't zap the burgers. Today they came out rather over-done.

On the other hand, she noted that the back yard grape vine bore grapes. They're much smaller than what you'd buy in a supermarket, but have an intense taste. I wonder if our grapes are 'normal,' and the commercial ones have the taste of one grape, diluted through a much larger volume.

And now, in the evening, a south wind wafts the roar of the racetrack around our house.

Friday, August 31, 2007

#1 Daughter Still in Interesting Times, #2 Daughter Briefly Back

Our oldest daughter's life, this week: She
  • Got a job and moved to Alexandria
  • Lost the job
  • Got another job
  • Lost that job
I think she's now convinced that she can't get work done in a paint/chemicals/stuff-in-the-air environment.

Then, today, she slept for 14 hours and woke up with a fever.

There's supposed to be a Chinese curse, "may you live in interesting times." Whether the saying originated in China, or in the April, 1950, issue of "Astounding Science Fiction," I can attest to the preference I'd have for stability, serenity, and predictability, in contrast to what this family has been experiencing lately.

Not that all surprises are bad.

After we'd finished eating supper (the evening meal, for this family), the doorbell rang. It was #2 daughter, home until tomorrow afternoon, when her ride comes through town again.

I've seen her, and exchanged a few words before she was whisked off by #3 daughter. At this point, #2 daughter is consulting with my wife on some matter that I probably wouldn't understand, even if I could hear them clearly.

Hoo Boy, That Was Embarrassing

A recent post in this blog, "Minnesota Travel Blogs: a Commercial Venture," was supposed to be posted in the "Apathetic Lemming of the North" blog, where it is now.

You won't find that irrelevant post here anymore, by the way. I deleted it after copying the thing over to the blog where it belonged.

Now, to write something that does belong here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Interesting Times for #1 Daughter

Our #1 daughter moved into an apartment in another town yesterday, and started her first day on the job.

Today, she learned that although her new employer reported that quite a few positive adjectives apply to her, she's not a good match for the job.

We knew that the job was a temporary one, but we'd assumed that it would last until the end of the year.

I'll be following her progress with considerable interest.

(For those of you who may be curious: don't let the calm tone of this post fool you. Inside, I'm screaming.)

Parenting in a Diverse, Multicultural,
Borderline-Insane Culture

This post isn't about politics, although the central character is a politician.

The headline attracts attention, as they're designed to: "Republican senator arrested, reportedly for lewd conduct." The politico is Idaho Senator Larry Craig. The senator was "apprehended by a plainclothes police officer investigating complaints of lewd behavior in an airport men's room."

News reports very carefully didn't mention what the "lewd behavior" was. I finally learned what happened in a report that started, "WASHINGTON - Idaho Sen. Larry Craig, who has voted against gay marriage and opposes extending special protections to gay and lesbian crime victims, finds his political future in doubt after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from complaints of lewd conduct in a men's room."

Still sounds serious. Farther down, the article said that "Sgt. Dave Karsnia made the arrest after an encounter in which he was seated in a stall next to a stall occupied by Craig. Karsnia described Craig tapping his foot, which Karsnia said he 'recognized as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct.'"

Tapping his foot.

That's proof, apparently, of something. "Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, an advocacy group, on Monday called Craig a hypocrite.

"'What's up with elected officials like Senator Craig? They stand for so-called family values and fight basic protections for gay people while furtively seeking other men for sex,' Foreman said."

Tapping his foot = furtively seeking other men for sex = being a hypocrite. I hate to think what the senator would have been guilty of, had he blown his nose.

I'm a devout Catholic - yes, one of 'those' - and now I'm going to have to decide whether to add foot-tapping to the list of culturally inappropriate behaviors, or whether it's a rule that applies only to conservative politicians.

No complaints: to be Catholic is to be counter-cultural. Strongly, in some cases. But living in a culture where foot-tapping has become inappropriate behavior doesn't make parenting easier.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Moved the Kids Out

I wasn't involved very much with today's project, which wrapped up our family's double-header nest-emptying.

My wife picked up a 14' U-Haul truck, she and the kids packed it, and when they were done there was room them, but not me, inside. I joked that they might strap me to the top of the truck: and my wife said, "don't tempt me."

I stayed here in Sauk Centre.

Today's move got our oldest daughter into an apartment, so she'll be closer to her new job. Sure, it's a temporary job, good until the end of the year, but: it's a job!

It's different now, with half of the kids out of the house. Quieter. My son came in a while ago, on his way to bed, turned to where his oldest sister would have been working with her laptop, and observed that he wasn't used to her being gone yet.

It will be quite a while before I'm "used to it." In a way,I suppose I never will be.

This summer was a wonderful time, with all four of our surviving children under the roof. It may be the last time that happens for a full season. In a way, I hope so. The two oldest are adults now, and it is time that they begin setting up households of their own.

There are times when I wish we lived in one of those cultures where several generations of a family might live in one compound, or on adjoining farmsteads, or whatever the arrangement might be. But, counter-cultural as my wife and I are in many ways, there's no sense in trying to run a family's economy one way, when several hundred million of your neighbors are doing something else.

Besides: this way, I figure that we're likely to get grandkids sooner, than if they stayed at home.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Moving the Kids Out

Two of them, anyway. I drove the family van up to visit my father last Friday, followed by our #2 daughter in her car. She was packed and ready (more or less) to get back to studies. After a visit with grandpa, of course.

I'm glad I went, although I slept 12 hours Friday night, and Saturday morning, after a slight intestinal event.

That was really odd. Sure, I've been short-changing myself on sleep for the last few weeks, but that's nothing. When I was in our daughter's position, a college student, my schedule demanded crazy hours, and I could do it standing on my head: no problem.

Wait a minute. That was - let's see. Thirty. Years. Ago.

Looks like my wife is right: I do need more, and more regular, sleep.

Then, just to keep my life interesting, my body decided to keep me awake most of last night. I relaxed all of today: which didn't take much of an act of will on my part. I very sincerely didn't feel like doing much, aside from letting my eyes blink, and twiddling my fingers over a keyboard and mouse once in a while.

Tomorrow morning, our #1 daughter and I will go through about the same routine, except not over such a long distance. In her case, it's a move down the road to a town where she got a job.

Driving up to my father's home, in the Red River Valley of the North, brings me back to the area where I grew up. I'm a town boy, but the edge of town wasn't that far away, and the family went from town to town fairly often.

I'm used to a landscape that's a bit on the roomy side. In the half-century since I got started, the Red River Valley has gotten built up quite a bit. Most of the shelter belts and wind breaks weren't there when my mind was establishing how the place "should" look. Just the same, this picture gives you a little idea of how much elbow-room there is.

Sauk Centre, on the other hand, is a very pleasant place. It's a bit on the crowded side, though, with farmsteads less than a mile apart, and a horizon that's often not much farther away. Still, it's a nice place to live. This picture is of fields between the west side of Sauk Centre and the Interstate.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Back to School: I'm Keeping my Head Down

I've found a corner of one room where I'm safely out of the way. My wife, three daughters, and eleven-year-old son, are packing our second daughter's car, and the family van.

"Hectic" is a modest way to describe the process.

As soon as it's safe, I'll emerge and serve as van driver.

And we've still got #1 daughter to move out.

I love my family: and not just because they keep my life from getting boring.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kids moving out, New Water Heater, Street Repair Coming

I haven't been bored since my wife and I got married and started this family. This week has been less boring than usual.

My wife and the kids were in Alexandria, about 20 miles (32 KM or so) up the road, most of the afternoon, checking out apartments for our oldest. It's exciting times at this household right now.

#1 daughter has a job, and is moving out this weekend.

#2 daughter is going back to college this weekend.

Thankfully, #3 daughter and #1 son aren't going through anything quite so major right now: just back-to-school stuff.

Which isn't exactly minor, except in comparison with those moves.

Meanwhile, the household has a new water heater. That should fix the issues of having hot water for washing, and not having a funny taste in the water. Also, that puddle in the basement won't be around now.

That's mostly good news, but of course it cost money.

The street maintenance planned for later this year will, too. It's needed, even overdue, and they're going to work on the water mains and sewers. More good news. Just one problem: someone will have to pay for it.

I know the local paper wasn't trying for laughs, but I thought this was funny - "water main and sanitary sewer improvements will not be assessed against residential property owners with the city picking up the cost."

True. Property owners aren't assessed directly. But we pay, directly or indirectly, for all the revenue that the city picks up from taxes and fees.

On top of that, There's an average of $8,400 that every household on Ash Street will get to pay for having the street torn up. I'm not complaining. It has to be done.

But thinking about that, and a layoff that's into its second year, and a tiny business that isn't quite off the ground yet, is giving me the heebie-jeebies.
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