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.
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