Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last Day of 2008

This morning it was about 20 below zero outside, and 60 in the kitchen. Maintaining a temperature difference of 80 degrees between the core of the house and the outside isn't bad, under the circumstances.

It's been chillier here, where I work at the computer, though. Still, I've got a nice view out the window.

My wife and #3 daughter are out, getting groceries, and I'm going to get to work on a graphics project for my son-in-law-to-be.

Whatever else my life is, it's not boring.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Winter Storm in Minnesota: Not Much, So Far

Albany, down the road, had five inches of new snow on the ground around 5:30 this morning: and the National Weather Service has a "Winter Storm Warning" in effect until 3:00.

So far, the heaters in the house are keeping the place at a comfortable 60 to 64 degrees, more or less, depending on where you're standing.

"Comfortable?" Have I mentioned that I grew up in the Red River Valley of the North? A half-century ago?

Here in town, so far, we've got a nice, fine, snowfall, and not all that much wind. Still, I'm just as glad I don't have to drive anywhere.

You can take a look out the window with the webcam, at Small Town America: Minnesota . We didn't have that back in the Good Old Days. Why, in my day, we didn't even have wood-burning webcams!

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm Sick, the Furnace is Kaput, There's a Storm Coming: but Other Than That, Things are Fine!

Let's see: I drove #2 daughter and her boyfriend down to St. Cloud last Thursday, and saw them off at the airport.

First leg of the journey, outbound from St. Cloud, Minnesota.

Then, the hour-long drive back to Sauk Centre. Since it was Christmas Day, there were a lot of empty parking lots near the Interstate.

By Friday evening, I was feeling distinctly below-par. Enough so that I didn't grill lunch Saturday or Sunday. Or go to Mass on Sunday.

Sunday morning, the family was dressed and ready to go, we went to the garage, tried to open the door - and it wouldn't budge. That's not quite accurate. It may have moved a thirty-second of an inch or so, but that was it.

No problems. #1 daughter's car was parked on the street north of the house, so she and I went out the front door to fetch it. I got as far as the edge of the front stoop, when something about the ice - and the way I was feeling - told me that staying in was prudent.

Turns out I was right.

I went out this afternoon, since there were prescriptions and groceries to get. My wife is feeling worse than I am, and it gave me a chance to take some pictures. I went to Wal-Mart for one set of prescriptions, then to Coborn's. That's when I noticed that I didn't have the shopping list with me.

Back into the van. I backtracked my route: particularly where I'd opened the door to get a photo of the new Ace Hardware place. No card with writing on it.

Into Wal-Mart, and a brisk walk to the pharmacy. Which, by that time, was closed. They take a late lunch break, which is great for people picking something up during a more conventional noon break.

For me, those lowered gratings weren't what I wanted to see.

However, they'd left the shopping list within inches of where I set it down - on a counter that's outside the barriers. Happy days.

Back to Coborn's, where I got more-or-less what my wife had written down. I'm told that it was close enough.

Then home and into the garage. (Good news - the door works now.) The family had been busy: my route to the inside door was blocked. So, outside and around to the front door, carrying about half the groceries.

Once inside, I shambled to the kitchen, set the groceries on the floor, and mumbled something about potatoes still being in the van, and my not feeling like getting them.

My temperature's now above 101: so at least I've got a good excuse for feeling the way I do.

Furnace Failure and a Storm Coming: It Could be Worse

By the time I got downstairs this morning, my wife had determined that the furnace was on the fritz, called the company that handles maintenance for that unit, and learned that they'd have someone out within eight hours.

She also had the kids moving electric heaters into position.

She obviously had the situation well in hand, so I stayed out of the way. The rest of the day was a sort of Good News / Bad News scenario:
  • Good News
    The technician showed up well before the eight hours was up
  • Bad News
    The part that failed isn't available locally
    • Or in this part of the state
  • Good News
    The part seems to be under warranty
  • Bad News
    Without that part, it's downright dangerous to run the furnace
  • Good News
    The technicians (a second one showed up, later) found the part, and are having it shipped out here
  • Not-So-Good News
    If we're "really, really, lucky," the part will be here Wednesday
    • If we're "lucky," it'll be here Friday
That's the way my wife described the odds of our having a working furnace this week.

Right now, my wife's distribution of electric heaters has kept the house quite habitable, and we have yet to pop a circuit breaker.

#3 daughter has a layered look with a hooded jacket, leg warmers, and a scarf on the outside. Even my son is wearing a sweater. So am I, of course.

There's a "winter weather advisory" for tomorrow, and we could get up to a half-foot of snow tomorrow. That's actually good news, since if it accumulates on the roof we'll have a bit of extra insulation. The (by my standards wimpy) 13-mile-an-hour wind might drift the snow up against the house a little, too.

This reminds me of the Good Old Days - and why I'm so glad that I don't have to live there.

Finally, we got a call from #2 daughter and her fiance, down in Louisiana. After my wife touched base, I talked with him - and have a project to get done.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Daughter's Boyfriend is Now Fiance

#2 daughter's boyfriend proposed last night, as the family was unwrapping Christmas presents. (We do the unwrapping Christmas Eve - not the traditional Christmas morning - to take a little pressure off the kids' nerves: among other things.)

After a very sincere hug and kiss, she said "yes," so now I've got a son-in-law-to-be, not a daughter's boyfriend, to talk to. I'll be driving the two down to the St. Cloud airport in a few minutes: they're flying to Louisiana

My almost-13-year-old son asked her what it's like to be engaged. She replied that, aside from a little added security, there's not much change in her feelings. She explained: "It's simply an outward manifestation of interior realities." Yep. We actually talk like that. Sometimes. She was sitting on the kitchen floor, eating a sandwich at the time.

It's T-minus 9 minutes now to departure now, so I've gotta get ready.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

'All I want for Christmas' - is a Snowblower?!

My wife gave herself a snow blower as an early Christmas present this year. Our #2 daughter's boyfriend seemed quite annoyed when my wife told him that she picked it because it was the cutest. I understand it has little frogs on it.

Later, she assured me that, although it was cute, she had chosen it on the basis of practical matters like usability.

I think she picked a good time to get a snow-blower. If it keeps snowing the way it's done for the last week and a half, we'd be hard-pressed to keep up. Besides the practical use of the thing, she said that she wants to make a hill of snow in the back yard - and has wanted to do that for 18 years.

#1 daughter arrived today, with her pet rabbit Giol. I haven't seen the little nibbler yet, but have talked a bit with my daughter.

I see that it's Christmas Eve by now. This was going to be a longer post, but I've got to get some sleep.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Wednesday: the Forgetful Case of the Missing Supplies

#2 daughter's college graduation ceremony is coming soon, and I must be more excited than I realized. A few minutes ago, I put water in the microwave, set the timer, and pushed the start button. Three times.

I had my elbows on the counter, face up to the microwave's control panel, studying the situation, when I realized that I'd left the door open. Of course, it wouldn't start!

I'm not the only one. My wife was going to pick up testing supplies for my blood sugar checker yesterday. At least, that was the plan. I hadn't been able to spot them. So, this morning, still unable to find the things, I called my father-in-law.

That actually makes sense. My wife and #3 daughter spend part of Wednesday afternoon over there, almost every week.

My wife couldn't remember where she put the supplies, so she asked #3 daughter. #3 daughter found them in "the black bag," a sort of carry-all that my wife takes with her most places.

Yep, we're definitely excited around here.

On top of the graduation, #2 daughter's boyfriend is here for a few days. Just in time to fix our cars. Well, one car and one van.

I think it was the cold weather that did it: #3 daughter's car battery had to be replaced, and the starter in the van gave out.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday: A Full House, Again

#1 daughter arrived this morning, putting all four kids under the roof. I've been enjoying the experience. I woke up this morning to the sound of #3 daughter, my son, and #2 daughter gleefully - and loudly - enjoying some game downstairs.

#3 daughter decided that my wife should get that baking done that she'd hoped to do yesterday. So, she enlisted #2 daughter and the others, whipped up a batch of muffins, and got them in the oven. Meanwhile, my wife was taking her afternoon nap.

Then they went upstairs to practice on a play.

Which left me near the timer when it went off. I had no clue what was supposed to happen at that point, but happily #2 daughter did. Or maybe it was #3. It was hard to tell whose voice it was, coming from somewhere upstairs. The muffins got taken care of, and now the baking's done. I think.

#2 daughter's boy friend is arriving at the St. Cloud airport tomorrow, around noon. He's here to visit us and my wife's father. Apparently he doesn't know that #2 daughter is here at this time - she made me promise not to tell him, if we talked on the phone. Which we didn't.

The plan was for me to drive down to St. Cloud with #2 daughter, and surprise him at the airport. She was going to hide behind me until he got within range.

The way I'm feeling, she'll probably be driving herself, and hiding behind a pillar or something.

Which reminds me - I'd better not post this until tomorrow, so he doesn't read about what's likely to happen.

#1 daughter brought her rabbit, Giol, with her. She's moved to a new-to-her apartment, rather an improvement on where she was before. Her neighbors are very taken with Giol. One thought that he was a small dog at first. People don't often see a rabbit on a leash. With outsized floppy ears.

I see that I've got an awful lot of catch-up to do, but that will have to wait for another time.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Letter 2008

I really ought to get organized, and update this once in a while. However, since me getting organized may take a while, here's a post, taken from this family's Christmas letter.

Christmas, 2008


Life is full of ups and downs, and this year has been no exception.

On February 23, we lost Grandma (my mother). She passed on peacefully at the nursing home in the small North Dakota town she grew up in.

A few months before that, Grandpa (my father) moved to the same nursing home. We visit as we can.

We've also been emptying the farm house. A sad task. We would fill the van each time we came. Finally, during the summer, we got help from some of my wife’s family and, with moving vans, managed to nearly empty the house. Some of my father's friends from the area were most kind in helping in various ways too. We left only a few things to make future visits more comfortable.

#1 daughter is now going to the Vocational Technical College down the road for graphics design. She is doing very well and has already won a first place prize for a graphic design. The project was sponsored by the local hospital. A few days later, the hospital asked her to design the inside brochure for them as a commissioned piece. She was quite excited. So are we.

#2 daughter will graduate from Concordia this December 17th with a music degree.

That achievement is overshadowed by her boyfriend, Aaron. We recently met the young man and agree with her that he is someone special.

#3 daughter is an avid writer. She has finished something like two novels and a number of short stories since the last family letter. Her novels are part of a series which she refuses to try to publish until the whole series is completed.

#3 daughter was a great help when it came to packing at the farm and unpacking here. My son was also a big help.

My son is now in 6th grade. He is once again taking choir. He is also taking band with the trombone as his instrument. He assures us that he enjoys it and will continue to enjoy it for a long time to come. Nonetheless, he needs to be reminded to practice.

We hope you enjoy this little peek into our family life. Thee is so much that could be said. Most importantly, we send our love and pray that you and yours will be greatly blessed now and in the years ahead.

Merry Christmas to all!

And to All, a Good Night!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thought for the Day

This doesn't happen often, but I heard a thought-provoking commercial on the radio today. An outfit promised that they'd "...take care of unplanned animal emergencies."

There are planned animal emergencies?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ever Have One of Those Days?

Several days ago, I heard a recording of ABBA's "Dancing Queen."

Today, a few bars of it have been replaying in my head. Over and over again.

As of 10:00 a.m., there's no sign that the song will go away on its own. I may have to take active countermeasures.

Don't get me wrong: I like the ABBA song. But, after about the hundredth time that "...Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen..." runs through the corridors of your mind like a caffeinated Swede, it's time to act.

As soon as I finish this post, I'm playing some Beethoven.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

That's My Daughter Who Did That!

I'm generally quite pleased with #1 daughter, but it's nice to see my opinion confirmed.

She's going to Alex Vo Tech now, studying commercial art. And, recently, won a design competition. A local hospital needed a poster done, and had the vo tech sort out the best student design. And, the best design was #1 daughter's!

Me, I'm a proud papa. A delighted dad.

"That's my daughter!"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October's Bright Blue Weather's Back

Another brisk, bright, blue-skied October day.

I like this time of year: partly, I think, because with most leaves off the trees, we're able to see more of the landscape; and more light gets to the ground.

My son came home today with the news that he'd had a flu shot, and had handled it rather well. Which reminds me, it's time for me to do the same: on both counts.

He's also getting his Halloween costume ready: a home-made Bionicle, of course. I'm looking forward to seeing what he's done this year.

He had another friend over today, after school. The two boys had a good time. Mostly in the basement, I'm happy to say.

After supper, my wife and #3 daughter went to check out a house for #2 daughter. My wife and #2 daughter talked about it on the phone, later in the evening.

Me? I talked with someone about a video he wants edited, took some photos, learned a little more about a set of 3D modeling software, and caught up on email. Somehow, that took the entire day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

So Far, a Nice Day

8:35 a.m.

It's been quite a nice day so far.

I ordered a "Nancy Drew" computer game for my son, at his request, using his money, earlier: My wife and #3 daughter have been having a great time, playing another one. This morning, he asked me if I'd check on the order. It'll probably ship today or tomorrow: good news for him.

#3 daughter and I had a chat about the color of her music studio, and how she picks colors (on impulse). That 'studio' was #2 daughter's bedroom, until it was re-assigned.

Now, my wife is practicing violin, two rooms over. Which, for me, is about the right range. The violin is a fine instrument, but rather assertive, acoustically.

And now, back to work.

Monday, October 27, 2008

That Was a Nice Weekend: Damp, But Nice

It was snowing at about 9:10 this morning. Which was a change of pace. Yesterday featured "October's bright blue weather." Actually, what was happening this morning was more snizzle than snow: a sort of snowy drizzle?

I've grilled lunch twice this weekend: always a pleasure. The wind today made the grill hard to light. We've got a new grill now, with a U-push-it lighter: I think the button is connected to a spring-loaded flint and steel inside.

Each time I tried to light it with that built-in lighter, it didn't light. I suppose the wind was blowing the LP gas away. I used up about a half-dozen matches, trying that approach, then decided to try the built-in lighter one more time. With a click and a soft "whoomp," the flames emerged, and I could start grilling.

Two paragraphs devoted to how I got a grill lit today. That wasn't the only significant thing that happened.

I've talked with my son several times, mostly when he came over to see what I was doing. #3 daughter has been writing some more, and my wife is looking forward to seeing High School Musical 3. It arrived in the movie theater on Friday.

We got a call from #2 daughter this evening. My wife and the rest of the at-home family were at Soo Bahk Do when the phone rang, so she talked a little with me. Then the folks returned home, and the conversation continued between my wife and #2 daughter.

I gather that #2 daughter wanted some advice on how to deal with her young man. Good thing my wife got home when she did.

All in all, it's been a relaxing weekend.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Thursday: Catching Up; and Catching My Breath

I hear that Alexandria, up the road, got snow the night before last. It was gone by morning, of course: the temperature was a balmy 40 degrees Fahrenheit by then.

It's been a long time since I posted here, so there's a lot of catching up to do. Some highlights from the last several months:

July 31, 2008. My son can now raise his left eyebrow, without the right one coming along for the ride. He's rather pleased with this accomplishment.

About a week later, around August 7, there was a long power outage at #1 daughter's apartment. Her phone worked, happily, so we had a long chat. Happily, this household has one of those telephone plans where we get unlimited long distance time - and a fairly low rate. I don't know how my wife finds these things.

#1 daughter started classes at Alexandria Vo-Tech this fall. She's planning on going into commercial art. A good idea, I think. So far, she seems to be doing well.

We've fall has come, and there have have been a few spectacular displays: including two small trees that turned bright red, while the bushes and trees behind them stayed green.

#3 daughter is a senior this year, and still home-schooled. It's a very satisfactory arrangement for us all. She and my wife have set up the northeast bedroom as a music studio for her. She's hoping to get more guitar students.

#2 daughter is expecting to graduate in December. She'll have finished the four-year program in a little under four years. Says the proud dad.

#3 daughter has been enjoying Giol, #1 daughter's pet rabbit, when #1 daughter comes to visit. #1 daughter says that #3 is enjoying Giol in spite of herself. #1 could be right. Even more surprising - particularly to #1 daughter - #2 REALLY likes the rabbit.

My son's friends have been over quite a few times: particularly one who likes the same online games. Sometimes the two get together by playing the same game online at the same time, and communicating through the game's chat functions.

That more or less brings me up to date, although I'm pretty sure I'm missing something.

A week or so ago, my wife and #3 daughter organized and cleaned the first floor - no small feat, considering that my wife has been fitting another household's stuff in this house, on top of what we have. I finally figured out why they were doing that. A young man that #2 daughter met online, at Ave Maria Singles, if I remember right, is coming to visit for a few days. From Louisiana.

By now that's "has come to visit."

#2 daughter arrived in Sauk Centre Friday, and the two of us drove to St. Cloud last Saturday morning, October 18. Since the St. Cloud airport is on the opposite side of St. Cloud, I wanted two hours available to get there. For once, I was ready to go on time. #2 daughter was scooting back and forth, doing last-minute preparations that I probably wouldn't understand.

We left with a bit less than an hour and a half of my two hours left. The Interstate narrowed to one lane, for road work. Twice. The second time was exciting, because the warning sign was several miles away from the start of the narrowed road. Traffic had re-adjusted to two lanes, and had to merge: fast.

The drive through St. Cloud was obstacle-free, until we came to the Mississippi bridge. It's not there any more. The detour was marked, though, and didn't take us more than maybe a quarter-mile out of our way.

Just to be thorough, I missed the turnoff to the airport. The next place to legally and safely turn around wasn't much more than a mile down the road.

We still got to the St. Cloud airport with five or ten minutes to spare.

On the way back to Sauk Centre, the three of us stopped off in Freeport. He'd asked about the church there, and I thought we might as well go see. The young man and #2 daughter spotted a fancy jungle gym. We stopped, and those two climbed to the top. She tells me that, as far as she is concerned, that was the top of the day.

The rest of Saturday, and Sunday, and Monday, are a bit of a blur. The young man blocked out 20 minutes to talk with me. About an hour and a half later, he had to go with #2 daughter, my wife, and #3 daughter to Cenacle. As my father-in-law said about me, decades back, "I can talk to this one!"

Besides being able to talk with me, and the rest of the family, the young man can grill chicken. As #2 daughter pointed out, he did it without nearly incinerating the chicken and melting the grill. It was pretty good, and my first taste of Cajun cooking. Something made by a Cajun from Louisiana, anyway.

#2 daughter drove the young man back to St. Cloud airport (Tuesday, I think it was), and spent the rest of the day with a cousin in St. Cloud. After she got back, I asked her how things went on the trip. This was her reply: "Okay. I stayed with him until he had to go away."

While all that was going on, I got a bulletin ready for the printers.

One thing I can say about the last week: it hasn't been boring.

Other than that, #3 daughter and one of her cousins have been doing something that involves #3 daughter borrowing my camera quite often. #3 explained what she and her "twin cousin" were up to, but I'll admit that I didn't follow her. It has something to do with a sort of story they're doing. This cousin is #3 daughter's "twin cousin," a nickname that got started because they're quite a bit alike: right down to appearance.

And now, because I need to get some sleep, I'll stop.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Whizz! That Was Wednesday and Thursday Going Past

I could blame it on the Ash Street Project.

It's been active in front of the house. This morning, a crew put in our new sidewalk. My son and I spent a good part of an hour watching that. And, in my case, taking pictures.

Maybe it's my diabetes.

That's not too realistic. Not all that much has changed recently: Although I'll know more, when results come back from today's tests.

My guess is that I'm distracted.

And, not all that well organized. "It could be worse" applies here, but my planning and organization skills could be better, too.

The point is, I'm back - and intend to get another post out 'soon.' However much time that is.

In case I'm not back today, have a nice weekend!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sacrilege Down the Road: A Very Serious Post

Morris is a little over an hour west of here, on Minnesota Highway 28. Since I grew up in the Red River Valley of the North, I think of that as "pretty close."

I've got happy memories connected with the town, but the recent news from Morris isn't good.

Sacrilege in Central Minnesota

An associate professor of biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris, is bragging that he put a rusty nail through a consecrated Host, and did the same to some pages from the Quran and from a book written by atheist Richard Dawkins: and threw the whole mess in the trash. (More at my "Quran, Eucharist, Atheist Book Nailed by Equal-Opportunity Desecrator" Another War-on-Terror Blog (August 4, 2008).)

As a devout Catholic, I'm appalled.

I learned about the incident in yesterday's homily at Our Lady of the Angels, here in Sauk Centre. After the mass, my son asked me why I was "moody" during the homily. Under the circumstances, "moody" was doing pretty well. For me, anyway.

Desecration of the Eucharist by State University Associate Professor

Aside from telling what happened, the parish priest passed along what I'm copying out of, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis (Reprinted as "Diocese 'horrified' by blogger's attack on Eucharist" in The Visitor, St. Cloud Diocese (July 31, 2008)):

"Father Baltes [parish priest at The Assumption Parish, Morris] addressed the issue in his parish's July 20 bulletin. He said that, while the attack on the Eucharist is grievous, it can be a teachable moment.

" 'The scandalous article that was written can become for us a golden opportunity to deepen our fath and love for the Lord in the Eucharist,' he said.

"Father Baltes wrote that Catholics can respond by doing four things:
  • 'Let us be clear about what we believe,' he wrote. 'At the heart of the Eucharistic celebration are the bread and wine that, by the words of Christ and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, become Christ's body and blood,' he said, citing a passage from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  • 'Let us give evidence to what we believe in the way we approach and receive holy Communion,' he wrote, urging reverence and 'full awareness of whom we receive.'
  • 'Let us pray for this professor and others who may share his opinions,' he wrote. 'Only the power of prayer, spoken out of love, can transform any human heart.'
  • 'Let [the university] know the outrage we feel at such a blatant attack on the Catholic Church's beliefs and what she holds to be most holy.'
" 'We want people to know we find this offensive,' Father Baltes said. 'At the same time we want to react appropriately and give witness with our lives in how we respect the Eucharist and live out what we celebrate in the Eucharist.' "

What to Do?

It seems pretty straightforward:
  1. Pray.
    • For personal understanding of, and appreciation for, the Eucharist
    • That we show reverence for the Eucharist when we receive it
    • For a loving transformation of the hearts of Paul Myers and others who share his opinions
  2. Act
    • Respectfully but firmly, let the university leaders know how we feel about this outrage. provided contact information for two key people at the University of Minnesota, Morris:
  • Jacqueline Johnson
    University of Minnesota-Morris
    309 Behmler Hall
    600 East 4th St.
    Morris, MN 56267
    (320) 589-6020
  • Robert Bruininks
    University of Minnesota
    202 Morrill Hall
    100 Church St. SE
    Minneapolis, MN 55455
    (612) 626-1616
(In each case, I am not making the email addresses active, out of consideration for whoever handles their email. (An exact, live, email link could be found and exploited by spammers.) To use the addresses, copy them into your email software, and replace the [at] with the usual @.)

How Do I Feel About This?

My son's "moody" is a pretty good start. I'm appalled, horrified, saddened, angry: well, you get the point.

On top of everything else, since I live in the state of Minnesota, I've been helping to pay associate professor Myer's salary. And, will continue to do so.

I have some sympathy for the U. of M., Morris, administrators. They may be torn between their allegiances to tolerance and "academic freedom." On the other hand, as soon as I get a good night's sleep, and calm down a bit more, I'm going to put together a letter, explaining just how much I appreciate being forced to support this sacrilege.
More, at: About the Eucharist:
  • "Article 3 The Sacrament of the Eucharist"
    Catechism of the Catholic Church, at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' website
    (1322-1419: Father Baltes drew attention particularly to 1333 and 1374)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday: Afternoon at the Fair

Good grief! It's almost two weeks since I added to this!

I went to see my father last weekend, picking up #1 daughter in Alexandria, and #2 daughter in Moorhead. A mile or so before the 8th Street exit on I-94, traffic slowed to a crawl. From the occasional law enforcement vehicle parked along the Interstate, I knew that something had happened, but a semitrailer blocked most of the view ahead.

That wasn't a problem for #1 daughter and me. We got about a half-hour more conversation in than we usually do, coming to pick up #2 daughter. Traffic was backed up on the 8th Street bridge, too, which got my attention. Saturday's Fargo Forum gave the explanation. Nobody had been killed, thankfully, when a truck was driven under the bridge, with its lift box in the 'up' position. A good-sized divot was knocked out of the bridge, and hit a car.

Aside from that, the trip was routine.

I enjoyed a talk or two with my father, but mostly I slept: at night, with several naps during the days we were there. I think I may have been getting caught up.

Routine? Not quite. #1 daughter brought her rabbit, Giol, along. Also his pet carrier and leash. Giol's harness had been left behind in Alexandria. Happily, #2 daughter located some cloth at the house and made a harness for the rabbit.

Giol was quite a hit at the nursing home. After my father got acquainted with Giol, my daughters took the rabbit for a walk up and down the hall. They visited quite a few rooms on their way.

Daisy, the home's resident friendly Labrador, had to be in her kennel while Giol was there. Toward the end of the visit, I sat next to Daisy, to keep her company.

Yesterday, my son announced that he can now raise his left eyebrow without right one coming along. I wasn't able to do that until around the mid-teens.

The two of us went to the Stearns County Fair this afternoon. It's one of the 'wristband' days, when a bargain-priced wristband will get youngsters onto any number of rides, between 1 and 5 in the afternoon.

My son made good use of his wristband, getting two rides on a perennial favorite of his, the Gravitron: a sort of spinning pie tin of a ride. He went on others, too, but skipped one that he knew would be too much for the way he was feeling. He's okay, but recognized a slight tendency toward queasiness. Hot days haven't helped that.

That lad has good sense.

We took a break from the midway around mid-afternoon, to look at the 4H and Conservation Club exhibits. The Conservation Club had reindeer this year, and a laid-back porcupine, among other creatures.

By the time my son and I got back home, we'd been out ten minutes short of four hours: and a find time it was.

Right now, as I write this, my wife, #3 daughter, and my son are playing "Cue Me" in the living room. And, judging from the laughter, having a good time.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Saturday: Sinclair Lewis Days Parade and a Car Fire

I think I've had enough excitement for now.

Yesterday, the family evacuated the house because of a gas line break.

Today, it was a car fire. Not one of ours, happily.

The day started routinely. My wife and #3 daughter went out in the morning to get groceries and see what was to be had at rummage sales. I got caught up on my tasks, talked a little with my son, and some with #1 daughter when she showed up.

#1 daughter's cartoonist efforts passed a milestone. A monthly comic strip she's been making for a website in Great Britain is going to be printed. Not by itself: as part of the artwork that's been on the website. She doesn't get paid, so far as I know, but it is exposure. She's quite pleased with the news.

I grilled this noon. In the rain. Actually, I stayed out of the rain as much as possible. The grill is closer to the shed than it was last season, so I was able to stay in there, out of the rain, and still keep an eye on the grill. The burgers came out a bit more well-done than usual, but still quite edible.

Afternoon, and more catching up for me. The ladies and my son enjoyed a game they'd picked up - I think this morning. If its pricing was typical for rummage sales, it cost the family about 25 cents - and well worth it, from the laughter I heard. The name escapes me - something about a "clue."

#1 daughter and I went to church this afternoon, for the same reason we did last week. It lets her spend some time with us - and reduces her travel to once a week. And, she's still helping us get organized.

Supper, then I went to see the Sinclair Lewis Day parade. My son decided not to go with me, since he likes to pop in and out of the house when the parade goes by here.

I think the parade organizers were a little off on their organization this year. Sometimes there was over a block between units.

In fairness, they had two issues to deal with.

First, they were on unfamiliar territory: starting out from the Industrial Park, heading down Sinclair Lewis Avenue, and then making a left and two right turns to get onto Main ("The Original Main Street," as the street signs say).

Second, there was a little excitement as the parade started.

What I first noticed was a police officer loping by, talking earnestly into that little radio on his shoulder. Someone was leaning against the trunk of his patrol car, but moved as he got in and drove off, lights and siren on.

That got my attention.

I noticed that there were sirens coming this way - most likely on the street paralleling Sinclair Lewis Avenue, one block south. Looking around, I noticed a lot of smoke rising from the north side of the street, just this side of St. Paul's Church.

Just about exactly where I'd parked the van.

I set off in that direction, at a discrete but brisk walk.

As I got closer to the downtown stoplight, I could see that the smoke was definitely coming from right around where I'd left the van. No question about it.

At Main and Sinclair Lewis Avenue, I watched the Sauk Centre Fire Department go by - including a unit with, if memory serves, a boat in tow. I started wondering just what sort of emergency they expected.

That sort of response makes sense, though: the units would have been out and lined up in the parade, toward the head of the procession.

It wasn't the family's van: but it was close. A smallish dark green car was getting close personal attention from the Fire Department's staff. It was parked in the second spot ahead of our van. Too bad: it was a fairly new vehicle, from the looks of it.

Nobody got hurt, apparently, and the fire fighters were soaking down the engine by the time I arrived. I knew the situation wasn't too serious, when I overheard them discussion how to get the city's emergency vehicles back into the parade.

On my way back, after the parade, I heard the folks whose car was right ahead of the auto flambe looking at the rear of their car, and saying something about heat damage.

The parade? It was fun - and had my favorite float, the titanic grocery cart.

I'll be writing about that in the Sauk Centre Journal, tomorrow night.

Friday: A Break in Routine - and in a Gas Line

It's been quite a day.

I overslept, putting me behind schedule for the day's tasks. Behind or not, I took a break around mid-afternoon, to get sweaty at Fitness Guru.

We've been parking in the back yard ever since the Ash Street Project stated work in front of the house, so I went out the back door.

I heard a loud rushing sound southwest of me, somewhere on the other side of the garage, but didn't think much of it. The construction crew's been running water, sometimes in large quantities, and this sounded quite a bit like a very smooth-running flow of water.

I hadn't taken a look at south Main Street for a while, so after rounding the Stearns County Fairgrounds, I crossed Main, took a side street toward downtown, rejoined Main and headed back south.

Doing that today put me in position to see what looked like half the Sauk Centre Fire Department, including a tanker, scream down Main Street and turn left on 10th. That didn't look good, so I went back around the fairgrounds, parked, and walked around to the front of the house.

I saw one of the guys with the fire department walking by, pulling that heat-resistant jacket on.

He asked me if there was anyone in the house, and that we should evacuate.

That got my attention. I asked him what direction, and how far. They must have been getting set up, because he had to ask someone else before telling me north, and a block and a half.

I went inside, told my family the exciting news, and they left. So did I, after making sure there wasn't anything particularly hot running on the ground floor. I think those emergency drills my wife has the family do from time to time helped. That's a level-headed bunch.

We got together in a shady spot, about half-way to Our Lady of the Angels. I think #3 daughter was peeved to have her afternoon disrupted this way. Either that, or she used that as a way of releasing tension.

After a while, I noticed that the rushing sound wasn't there any more, and that the crew was starting up their equipment. Also, the one fire truck we could see had driven away.

I strolled back, hung around a spot where one of the tractors would go past, and the driver told me we could go back. Which we did.

Particularly since nothing particularly unpleasant happened, I enjoyed the break. We got out in the fresh air, and met someone from the neighborhood we hadn't run into before: a young man who was coming back to check on his dogs.

After the excitement, I walked over to see where the break had been. Somehow, at least one of those one-inch gas lines that feed the houses had gotten severed.

That's a lot of sound coming from such a little plastic pipe.

A crew from CenterPoint Energy was finishing up the process of putting the gas lines back together when I got there.

The break was two or three doors down from us, making me profoundly glad that the gas hadn't touched anything hot in its escape.

Other than that, it was a pretty business-as-usual Friday. The high points were my learning that #3 daughter had picked up a weight set at a rummage sale, and learning that the ladies had brought my old Cub Scout shirt back from the Red River Valley.

That shirt fits #3 daughter very well.

My son tried it on - he's a bit big for it already. I'm quite sure that he's going to grow taller than me. Probably by quite a bit.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Month in Fast-Forward

Repeating a point from Tuesday's post, this month has felt like it's been in fast forward. It isn't that I've been busy. At least, I don't seem to have gotten much done. It's like my mind's been doing laps 'round the gym.

It can't be mental exercise, though, or I'd have been a little smarter. Case in point: over the weekend, My son and I went out for some groceries. That's when I realized that I didn't have my car keys in my pocket. Or, in any other reasonable place. Or in a few unreasonable places, for that matter.

We got the groceries, using spare keys, but I still wanted to find my set. I even considered the possibility that I might have chucked them in the trash, while dealing with some stuff we really did want to throw out.

Sound familiar? It should. I'd gone through about the same thing with an appointment book last week ("Friday: Where'd Wednesday and Thursday Go?" (July 11, 2008)).

That night, walking through what I'd done after the last time I remembered using the keys, I came to my computer desk.

I'm learning: Instead of telling myself how I couldn't have, I checked in one of the drawers. There were the keys. Right where I'd put them.

I don't generally do that sort of thing.

There's a pretty good explanation. We've been sorting through a household-full of stuff that's been taken down from the Red River Valley. Besides what I can see and touch, there are a lot of memories there.

I'm down to about four piles of books to go through - for now - so that's pretty much taken care of.

My father's doing about the same, although I've gotten a phone call from someone he's been dealing with, asking me to please get the power of attorney paperwork to them. They're right, of course: but it's another reminder that my father is getting rather close to the end of his life.

Not the happiest thought in the world.

Where was I?

Right. July in fast-forward.

Whether all this explains why I've been feeling like one of those wind-up toys that whiz around in circles until they run into something, or not, is anyone's guess.

My mind's done another lap around the gym, and I'll be repeating myself soon.

Time to stop.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sunday: no, Monday - Tuesday, Already!?

Last week whizzed past.

Actually, the month has felt like it was in 'fast forward.'

I haven't gotten all that much done, but seemed to be taking all day doing it.

My wife and #3 daughter came home from their weekend working vacation Sunday evening: and were sincerely welcomed by the two guys they left behind. I think my wife was pleased - maybe surprised - that we'd done such an adequate job of keeping the household looking fairly unchanged.

We'd even done the dishes!

The ladies had, in collaboration with one of the cousins, cut - and in #3 daughter's case, straightened - their hair. With good results, I'd say.

Today I applied for a job at a local business. They're getting to the time of year when their reliable college students will be going back to school - which means opportunities for me.

After that, my son and I drove to Alexandria to pick up his computer. The process of getting it ready had run a bit over-time, so he and I were forced to spend about an hour in the computer store and repair shop.

I can't say that either of us minded. At all. As my son put it, quoting what I've said on similar occasions, "I want one of everything."

The computer was almost fixed - all it required was an (unexpected) bit of product code that was back home. So, into the van with the computer and us, and back to Sauk Centre for a late supper.

My wife and #3 daughter left a few minutes after we got back. Nothing to do with us: one of our sister-in-laws and her kids were over at the Sauk Centre grandpa's - he was going to be out for a while, so our ladies went over to visit.

That turned out to be a good idea. #3 daughter got on famously with the youngsters, one of whom is about three years old. I very much like the way this family gets together, and gets along, so well.

My son's computer is another matter. We may have to take it back to Alex. My guess is that there's something wrong with the update disk we have. I'll be calling the computer store tomorrow, to see if we can get this worked out over the phone. About the disk? I could be wrong.

My son isn't very happy about the situation with his computer, but he's taking it pretty well. A sympathetic dad helps, I think.

My son and I read Garfield again tonight, a fine tradition.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Saturday: It's been a Good Day

There isn't all that much more to report: #1 daughter, my son, and I had supper here, watched a little television, and then it was time for her to go back and feed her rabbit.

The wind's been blowing vigorously all day. It started out from the south, then rather abruptly slewed around to the west, and stayed there: about 25 or 30 miles an hour, with gusts near 40. My son loved it: he could throw his ball over the garage, and have it land by the shed out back. Once it wound up on the other side of the old willow.

Friday's storms dropped 0.88 inch hail on Belgrade, I read. When the three of us went to church today, we saw a good-sized branch that had gotten blown down - it was a bit over six inches across. That was some weather we had. The rain is deeply appreciated.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Us Guys on Our Own: Day 1 - We're Not Alone

My wife is taking no chances this weekend. She sent #1 daughter here, presumably to do some more organizing. I think it was to keep an eye on us guys.

She may have a point.

I asked #1 daughter to get me some coffee: a sensible request, since she'd just then blocked me in with a pile of books to sort through. I told her that she'd find the coffee cup on a temporary table, next to my son's invention, and a spoon on the arm of the couch.

That's right: just a little over 18 hours on our own, and this place is already starting to look like a bachelor pad.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday: Where'd Wednesday and Thursday Go?

That whizzing sound I heard must have been this week going by.

I spent more time than I liked, Wednesday morning, finding out that a Microsoft Windows update and my firewall software hadn't gotten along very well, with the result that none of my browsers could reach the internet. (More about that at "ZoneAlarm Microsoft Update Cuts Internet Access" Apathetic Lemming of the North (July 9, 2008)) and "Microsoft Update and Zone Alarm: a Tribute to Tech Support" Starting a Small Business Without Losing My Mind (July 11, 2008).)

The rest of Wednesday is something of a blur. I know that the household went through its usual routines - including an evening reading of Garfield - but I can't pull out specific details.

Thursday is a bit better, in terms of memory. I got that filling replaced - the one that popped out last week. The process didn't take very long, and was much less uncomfortable than it could have been. Mostly because the dentist didn't use Novocain.

We discovered, several years ago, that most of the discomfort I've associated with dental work came from side effects of that local anesthetic. I'll want it, if I ever have 'deep' work done, but not for something like this.

That process done, I went home, got some work done and discovered that I'd misplaced my appointment book and a notepad that I use. Enlisting my family's help, we didn't find them.

My son asked me, 'could they be by your bed?' I assured him that this was quite impossible. I hadn't been upstairs after the dental work that day. I would have remembered something like that.

Time passed. I had looked in all the sensible places, and some of the not-so-sensible ones. By this time it was too late to call, but I figured that I'd probably left them at the dentist's, that exercise place, or the gas station.

I started to jot that memorandum down in the appointment book - but that was what I'd lost.

Then, a thought struck me. My son had almost quoted advice I give him, when he's looking for something - look everywhere, even places where you know the thing isn't.

And, I'd almost quoted him, refuting the suggestion.

When my son repeats my advice, maybe I should follow it.

I went upstairs.

The appointment book and notepad weren't by the bed.

They were on the bookcase near the bed.

In plain sight.

I took them downstairs. My son was outside at the time, but as soon as he came it, I showed him the two items. And told him where I'd found them. He wasn't surprised at all.

My wife and #3 daughter decided to conserve their strength, so they stayed home from Soo Bahk Do Thursday night. That left me with the opportunity of taking my son, and sitting out a class. He's learned quite a bit, since the last time I saw him in class. And, I had a chance to see some of the dons (teachers) run through part of a cane form that they'd seen.

Soo Bahk Do class in Sauk Centre

One of my hopes is that I'll get exercised and flexible enough again, so that I can start picking up where I left off in Soo Bahk Do. Realistically, picking up somewhat behind where I left off.

Once again, my son and I read Garfield.

Around midnight, I wondered why I was awake, and why someone was doing arc welding outside. As more of my brain came online, I realized that the blueish-white light was lightning, and that what had registered as heavy machinery was thunder.

That got me awake. Computers off and unplugged, I stayed up a few minutes to watch the show. Also, since there was a severe weather alert, to make sure that the storm went by without causing any trouble.

That done, I got back to sleep.

Which brings me to today.

I've resolved the Microsoft update and firewall issue, found out how to contact someone for my former employer (I still do the occasional job for them), and had a conversation with one of the technicians who's been working on my son's computer. We should be able to pick it up next week. My son asked if he could tag along (his phrase) when I get it - which I think is a fine idea.

My wife and #3 daughter, and my son, went out for groceries this morning: and showed his remote-control mover to the Sauk Centre grandpa. Once home, the two ladies got final preparations for the trip to the Red River Valley done.

Around 2:30 or 3:00, one of my sister-in-laws and her daughter showed up, talked a bit, and took off with my wife and #3 daughter.

That left me and my son in charge of the house.

So far, about five hours and one meal later, we haven't done any real damage. In fact, things are going rather well. We hope to see the ladies again, sometime Sunday.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tuesday: A Nicely Typical Day

#1 daughter showed up today, a little before noon, to help organize books in the attic. She and I talked, too, off and on through the afternoon. A little after noon, she alerted me to a hummingbird at the feeder. That little green bird's bill was longer than it's head.

The Webcam caught a picture of the hummingbird, but the part of the image where the bird is sitting is pretty dark. There's been a big trailer with bright white sides parked on the street, right in front of the Webcam. That throws the brightness balance off more than a little.

Oh, well. At least we got to see the hummingbird.

My son spent quite a bit of the day, making a gadget for delivering one of our two remote controls for use: He's justifiably pleased with his efforts, considering the limitations of materials and tools the household had to offer.

My son's remote-control delivery device. "That's my boy!"

Work on Ash Street continues: we'd have had the windows open more, except that sometimes the sound level outside was too high.

Normally, around this time of year, the high school's band would be marching past the house at intervals, practicing for Sinclair Lewis Days. The Ash Street Project's hanged that. They were doing their marching in the school parking lot today.

My day started winding down, as usual, with reading Garfield with my son.

We've got a good life here.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday: Where'd Sunday Go?!

Sunday went by very fast. I went to church, grilled lunch, had a fine time listening to #2 daughter and #3 daughter talking, talked a little with my son and #1 daughter, doodled a bit on a project - not really working, just playing with some ideas - and thoroughly enjoyed grilled potatoes, corn-on-the-cob (provided by #1 daughter), bear meat for supper.

I'm not entirely clear on where we got it, probably one of my wife's brothers, but we have been enjoying bear meat this weekend. It's not as different from beef as I'd have expected. Good, though.

My son made a very short movie, involving Bionicle characters, over the weekend. He figured out how to use Windows Movie Maker and Microsoft Paint to do stop-action animation with sprites. Smart lad. He got such an enthusiastic response from a fan site, that he finished a sequel today.

Speaking of movies, we've been doing more movie-watching at home than usual: "Ratatouille," Saturday night, and "Alvin and the Chipmunks" (2007) tonight. Fun! Maybe because I remember 1958, I enjoyed the 'history of the chipmunks' video that was on the DVD.

I see I forgot to note that my wife got new (to us) chairs for the kitchen table. She tells me that the former owner practically begged her to take them, at a rummage sale. I can see why: it's been decades since plastic bucket seats like that have been in style. But, they're functional and comfortable - so we like them.

I've got to turn in and get some sleep. Goodnight.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Saturday: A Full House

We had all four kids under the roof today, after #1 daughter came in the late morning.

My wife, #2 daughter, and #3 daughter spent part of the morning over at the Sauk Centre grandpa's. I grilled lunch - and didn't incinerate the burgers. Without supervision! I think I'm getting the hang of grilling, if I do say so myself.

My wife had me put potatoes on the grill this afternoon, which meant that we had a treat for supper. We watched the Disney/Pixar film, "Ratatouille," for the first time. That was fun - and a surprisingly engaging movie.

#1 daughter and I talked a bit, she and my son talked and played, my son and I read Garfield toward the end of the day, #2 and #3 daughters talked, and we all heard fireworks at the race track, south of town.

All that It's been a good day.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Fourth of July: Time to Catch Up. Again

I've got three days to catch up on now, I see.

For some reason, time seems to have been in 'fast forward' for me this week.

Wednesday was fairly routine: my wife and #3 daughter went over to the Sauk Centre Grandpa in the morning, and to #3 daughter's guitar lesson in the afternoon. That left my son and me with the house to ourselves.

He's still very excited about the Bionicles website upgrade, and spent some time telling me about it. I understand his excitement and enthusiasm, but not the details he relates. I can't remember much about what he said, except that the site is new, and cool.

Thursday afternoon, #2 daughter arrived while I was at Fitness Guru. She's here for the weekend. And, she talked with me for much of the evening, while my wife, son, and #3 daughter were at Soo Bahk Do.

#3 daughter has finished C. S. Lewis' "That Hideous Strength," and we discussed that book, music, history, ethnology, and what it takes to clean a building, among other things. That was a good time.

#1 daughter had called earlier that day, and I'd had a pretty good talk with her, too.

The Ash Street Project is still churning up the street in front of the house. I've lost track of how many times the street's been dug up, filled in, and dug up again. They're definitely making progress: we've got new fire hydrants now, as well as what's been replaced below ground.

And, there are big blocks of rock on the berm, south of us. I'm told that there is a stone ridge - granite, I think - roughly under the Lake Wobegon Trail.

Which brings me up to today.

There's no heavy equipment running outside: the crews get Independence Day off, happily.

#3 and #2 daughters have been talking for much of the day, my son's been going outside to enjoy the day, and those three and my wife tried to go bowling.

They would have, too, if the lanes had been open. My wife says she'll try another time, when #2 daughter is here.

I had another talk with #1 daughter, on the phone, this morning. She may be coming over tomorrow.

I didn't time it, but I think that, between #1 daughter and #2 daughter, I've spent about 6 of the last 24 hours, talking with one or another of my kids. And that doesn't count the comments that pass back and forth between me and my son as the day goes by.

Life is good.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Monday and Tuesday: Last of June, First of July

The first part of this week whizzed by.

I've lost track of how many times the crews have dug up the street outside, filled it in again, and then dug it back up. There is probably a very good reason for doing things this way - and we can use the intersection while the street's filled in. That's quite a convenience, since if the 8th and 9th street crossings are both blocked, we have to drive around the Stearns County fairgrounds and a couple residential blocks to get to the rest of town.

Our son, following my wife's instructions, brought my old HO scale train and tracks upstairs. He built a surprisingly functional bridge of Construx on a counter in the living room: and would have tried looping the track around into the kitchen if #3 daughter hadn't intervened.

I went to Melrose this morning, for a routine X-Ray and talk about my new hips. They're both there, looking good, and working well: so, I'll be going in to another checkup in a year.

Asked how I was doing, with the new hips, I said that I'm ebullient. It's great, being able to move around without the, ah, discomfort I'd gotten used to.

Our son is excited today, because the Bionicles website has been upgraded. I don't understand all the details, but apparently it's even cooler than before, now.

My sessions at Fitness Guru, that exercise place, must be doing some good. I tried a new arm-exerciser Friday, and had sore biceps for the weekend. Nothing serious: but I could tell that I'd done some extra exercise with them.

Back at the exercise place Monday, I talked about the situation, and sketched out a sort of schedule for doing the best job of working my muscles.

More good news: I got another check from the advertising service I use.

Monday evening, my son and I read a list of pithy sayings and a sheet of answers from an elementary-school bible class test. That was a good change of pace. The test answers were funny: one of my favorites is, "When the three wise guys from the east side arrived they found Jesus in the Manager with hey and cow poop all around."

We're back to reading Garfield tonight.

It's getting late, and I've lost a filling. Time to stop.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday: Good Grief! I haven't Posted Since - Wednesday

It's the end of a good weekend, and I see I've got some catching up to do.

Thursday, June 26, 2008.

The family high point of this day was that a friend of my son's, the friend's mother, and younger sister, came over around noon to ask if my son could come over to their house for a while. My wife sent me to fetch him around supper time: they three kids were playing on a backyard trampoline. "A good time was had by all," I'm told.

Friday, June 27, 2008.

Part of Ash Street in front of our house, near the corner of Ash and Ninth, had been excavated Wednesday, Filled in Thursday morning, and then excavated again Thursday afternoon. I'm pretty sure the contractor had a good reason for doing that.

Our son has been talking about WALL-E, the new Disney/Pixar movie, for quite a while. It started showing at the Main Street Theatre today. He asked me if I planned to go, and if so, when. We'll decided to try for Sunday afternoon, when there's a 1:30 showing.

Saturday, June 28, 2008.

I didn't note anything out of the ordinary for today, except that my son and I went to church today, instead of tomorrow, so that we'd be able to get lunch ready earlier than usual tomorrow - all in the good cause of getting us to the WALL-E movie, naturally.

Sunday, June 29, 2008.

Back to today. My son and I had the house to ourselves for a while this morning, as the ladies went to church. #1 daughter was here, and decided to go along to the movie. She, my son, and I have very similar interests.

I grilled the burgers, not doing too badly at all, if I do say so myself. Then, after a bit of work with the dishes, my son, #1 daughter, and I were off to see WALL-E. That's the first movie I've seen, since some time last year.

That turned out to be an excellent way to spend about two hours of the afternoon. It was a good show - top-notch effects, and a better story line than I'd expected.

My son got one of those watches they were giving away for the first few showings. It's not the best timepiece in the world, but he's pleased with it, anyway. What makes it a bit special is that it's got the two main characters, WALL-E and EVE, embossed on the band, just above and below the watch.

#1 daughter stayed for supper, she and I talked after the rest of the ladies and my son went to Soo Bahk Do, and then it was time for #1 daughter to return to Alex, to feed her rabbit.

After the rest of the family came back from Soo Bahk Do, I learned that my wife has advanced to the next color belt - or will as soon as she does the qualifications. (I think that's the way she phrased it.) In other words, she has to break a few more boards.

My son and I read Garfield, as usual, and that brings me up to date.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wednesday: The Ants are Back

It's a good thing we hung onto that ant killer. Saturday, my wife had a tab set up on the kitchen counter, with a full compliment of ants around the liquid, filling up, and an unusually energetic set of ants whizzing to and fro, around the bait.

Those streaks are high-velocity ants.

It seemed that the ants were zipping around faster than they normally do. Someone, #3 daughter, I think, suggested that they were on a sugar high from the bait.

Today, we've got another wave of ants.This is a different species: tiny things. If they're like the last set that looked like that, we're going to have a hard time dealing with them.

The scene from our front porch.

The Ash Street Project is in our front yard today. The crew is doing a really good job of keeping the dirt and mess as close to the street as possible. And, as far as my son and I are concerned, having a construction site less than twenty feet from the front door is great: we've both been keeping on eye on what's happening.

I picked up the van this afternoon. We've got two new tires on it, and parts for a defective switch should be in Friday. No sense in keeping the van at the garage. I'd intended to go straight to Fitness Guru, but forgot my duffel on the front porch.

Just as well. As I rounded the house, my son asked if I had a little time. He led me over to the south end of the excavation and asked me what a pair of metal slabs was for. I told him that it was almost certainly a sort of caisson, holding back dirt so that the sides of the trench wouldn't collapse on the guys working down there.

A safety device, I think, for the guys who were taking a well-deserved break.
You can see them, up on the grass.

I sorted through more books, read "Garfield" with my son, and so the day ended.
There's more about the Ash Street Project at Sauk Centre Journal.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tuesday: Sooner or Later, We'll Want Air Conditioning

I dropped the van off at the garage today: for a straightforward replacement of two worn tires, and a not-necessarily-straightforward investigation of why the dashboard fan switch gets hot.

The Ash Street Project is in our front yard now. There's a deep excavation at the corner, and a quite redundant 'Road Closed" sign in front of a mammoth pile of dirt that blocks the road.

My wife and #3 daughter were over at the Sauk Centre grandpa's this afternoon, minding the shop for him while he was out. Our son was with me, and had the task of starting the baked potatoes. He remembered the task without my prompting. Which is a good thing, since I'd forgotten that he was supposed to do that.

For all the dust, noise, and shaking of the ground, the Ash Street Project gives us something to watch. Walking toward the church, I met a lady with a toddler. She told us that she was from a nearby town, where her street had been torn up recently. The two of them were here to watch the work, apparently.

The toddler said "WHEE!" at one point, after a particularly large machine made a particularly loud sound.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Monday: Catching up on Saturday and Sunday

I see I haven't made an entry since Friday.

It's been a good weekend. I grilled both days, with #2 daughter keeping me company while I grilled Saturday.

#2 daughter and I talked a bit, but mostly she spent time with #3 daughter, and my wife.

The Ash Street Project working its way closer to our house. Today, a backhoe scooped out most of what was left of the three elms in front. Again, the good news there is that the northernmost tree had a rotting core, and might have come down in the next wind storm. It was taller than the house, and it's much better that in came down in controlled conditions.

My wife is still having me evaluate the many books that came back from the farm. #2 daughter helped with that. She went through the piles, looking for books that she found useful and/or interesting. She found quite a number. Including, I believe, one that's in Latin.

The Sauk Centre Grandpa stopped by for a while, to see the stuff and talk with us. He's been out of town for some sort of meeting. I gather that he's glad to be back.

Sunday was Soo Bahk Do night, as usual. My wife tells me that there was a test this time - and that she may have done well. I hope so. That's proven to be a good learning experience for her, and the kids.

Today was pretty much routine: back to daily chores. I got a bit of organizing done in my 'office' space: and have plenty more to do.

My son and I read Garfield all three nights, of course.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Friday: June Sostice, and the Weekend's Eve

I'm actually writing this Saturday morning, as heavy equipment shakes by the house.

#1 daughter's landlord arrived, at last, to let her in. She called me to let me know that she was okay. Asked what had taken him so many hours, he replied, "I'm not going there." I suspect that he hadn't been having a good day.

Friday was the longest day of the year here, the June Solstice: Summer Solstice, for those of us who live in the northern hemisphere. I understand that there was a big get-together at Stonehenge, over where England is now.

I went out to Fitness Guru for exercise, and #2 daughter came home for a weekend visit.

#2 daughter told me that she and the rest of the custodial staff cleaned seven floors of a dorm that had hosted wrestlers. She found mud in the back of a desk drawer. It had dried, which made things easier. But: mud?!

The other notable event at this household was that, at about 10:20 in the evening, we noticed that we had no water pressure at all. None. Negative pressure, in fact. After my wife had told me of the situation, and was calling a string of people about it, I went over to the kitchen sink and opened the faucet.

The idea was that water would come out of the faucet, and into the cup that I held under it. What actually happened was that I heard a slurping sound as air entered the faucet.

I'd gone out to make sure that we were still plugged into the city's water supply. The Ash Street Project contractor has us connected to a flexible hose, and getting water through our outside faucet. I haven't checked, but my guess is that everyone along Ash Street south has been, or will be, hooked up like that.

Quite a good idea, actually.

Someone came to check quite promptly, apparently. I heard a truck, or something with a heavy-duty motor, outside: and by 11:45 we had running water again.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thursday: Just How Smart are the Ants?

My wife bought ant killer the other day. Immediately, the ants disappeared. She hadn't even opened the bottle: they just weren't there any more.

I'm sure there's another explanation, but it occurred to me: 'Maybe they knew!'

We're keeping the anti-ant insecticide. Odds are pretty good that they'll be back.

Meanwhile, I took my laptop down to the shop in Alex this afternoon, and asked how our son's computer is coming along. My laptop's hard drive is probably kaput, and my son's computer is still being looked at.

All the repair jobs are taking a while now, since we had that run of lightning storms. People don't take as much care with their computer's electrical connections as they should.

Aside from that, I got some more photos of the Ash Street Project. I'll probably use them in Sunday's Sauk Centre Journal. A crew was filling in a major excavation at the intersection one block north of us.

One of the cousins was here today, visiting #3 daughter. I learned that she's quite interested in history, so gave the go-ahead for her to look through the books that we brought her from my father's place. She left with over a dozen: not light-reading ones, either. I've asked for a selection of those to be returned, when she's through reading them.

My wife, our son, and #3 daughter went to Soo Bahk Do again tonight, as usual. Also as usual, I read Garfield with our son.

Update, about 10:50. #1 daughter locked herself out of her apartment. She used a neighbor's phone to call her landlord. He said he was five miles away, and was coming. Four hours ago.

#1 daughter is a bit concerned. She called here about 10:30, and talked mostly with my wife. I got a call a few minutes after that. A woman asked me when I was going to let #1 daughter into her apartment. I think that was #1 daughter's neighbor, under the impression that she was calling the landlord.

This could be a long night.

Wednesday: This Day Went Fast

This day whizzed past. My wife and #3 daughter went out this morning for their usual Wednesday-morning-with-the-Sauk-Centre-Grandpa, and were off again for the last half of the afternoon, at a music lesson.

I got out for an exercise session. I think the things are helping. Some of the pulling, pushing, and turning seems to be easier now: which probably means I should put it up another notch.

#1 daughter showed up around noon. She came to pick up the laundry she'd done on Monday - and forgot to take with her. Also, she helped my wife with some of the re-organizing that's happening in the house.

Speaking of which, when I got back, Sunday night, I discovered that my wife had backed a hutch to the left side of the desk I use. It hides the clutter of cables that's behind the computer, and gives me a sort of 'office wall.' It actually helps me concentrate, I think.

And, the arrangement looks nice from the other side.

I see that I wrote, but didn't post, yesterday's entry. Clumsy. I think my wife's right: I do need more sleep.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Tuesday: Still Spinning, but I Got a Little Done

The Ash Street Project settled down to making this household's collective life interesting today. We had some momentary water outages this morning: nothing serious, just enough to have the faucets spit at us a little when we turned them on later.

More exciting, we were without natural gas for a while. A crew from the gas company came around noon, setting up to lay our new gas line. This one is plastic, replacing the old metal one - which ran straight under the garage. The former owners made some interesting decisions when they remodeled this place.

I think someone cut this little trench by hand.

I'd asked the technician from the gas company if we needed to move things out of the way, when he was here earlier in the month to check the place out. He assured me that there would be plenty of room.

He may have been an optimist. Or, he may not have realized just how big the machine that his company sent would be.

That was precision driving, getting that thing back here.

The crew that was here today did a really good job of cutting a trench down the east side of the garage, then running a slit westward toward the street. The guy on the trencher modified the slide a little, but as our son said, "maybe now it will work better."

That was a tight squeeze.
You can see the slide, to the left of the trencher.

Next step, cutting a slit in the sod, and pulling the gas line through it.

This gives an idea of how deep the gas line is.

So, now we've got a filled-in trench about five or six inches across, an untidy line of sod running toward the street, and an embossed yard where the tire treads sank in a bit. Nothing that a season or so of natural growth and raking wouldn't take care of.

But, one of the guys told me that there contractor has a restoration company come in and fix things up after they're done. Great! The only thing is, I suspect that strips of our yard will look better than the rest, where the restoration guys did their work.

One of the great side-effects of the gas line work was that my son and I had some time together, watching what was going on and talking.

My wife tells me that #2 daughter made the Dean's List at Concordia during the last academic session. #2 daughter's pretty happy about that. So am I. "That's my girl," and all that.

Apart from taking some photos of the Ash Street Project, I got some more writing done, did a few errands downtown, and put in time at Fitness Guru, that exercise place.

And, once again, topped off the day by reading Garfield with my son.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Monday: Definitely Monday

I spent most of the day catching up on what I'd normally have been doing over the weekend: writing posts for blogs, that sort of thing.

#1 daughter came in the morning, presenting me with a storage tin she'd picked up at a rummage sale: one printed like the old animal cracker circus wagons. That was a very thoughtful Father's Day present. As a child, I loved playing with those boxes, and still remember cutting out and adjusting the wheels.

I forgot to mention this: Yesterday, my wife and all gave me "Time Tunnel" DVDs. We all enjoy that old show, so it's a good family gift, as well as a Father's Day thing.

It's been a beautiful day, but I haven't been outside. I'll correct that omission tomorrow.

And, as usual, I closed the 'family' part of the day by reading Garfield with my son.

It's been a good day.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sunday: Back at Home

I've been out of town for the weekend, seeing my father for Father's Day, and to get some more stuff moved out. Actually, it was #2 daughter and my son who did most of the moving work.

Let's see what's happened:

Friday, June 13, 2008. I got up after a rather late night of preparation. I'd gotten ready for one of the usual up-Friday, return-Saturday trips, then learned that our son and I would be staying through Sunday. For Father's Day.

Obvious, when I thought of it.

So, I tried to get the late-Saturday and Sunday stuff done, too. Finally realizing that it wouldn't happen, I decided to get some sleep. Not the worst decision I've ever made.

That brings me up to Friday morning. I did some more last-minute work, then our son and I started off, about half-past noon. We picked up #2 daughter in Moorhead, and I indulged in a drive through Fargo-Moorhead as a way to get back to the Interstate, northbound to Hillsboro.

We had a pretty good talk with my father. Also, #2 daughter and our son got his Father's Day present set up: a TV/DVD/VHS we brought with us.

Back at the farm, #2 daughter fixed supper, we watched a movie, and so to bed. It had been a big day.

Saturday, June 14, 2008.

After a good night's sleep, my son, #2 daughter, and I went into town, talked with my father as long as his breath lasted, went to church, then returned to his place. I was feeling pretty tired by then, so I took a nap - not something I usually do.
Supper and the start of the first Lord of the Rings movie followed. We also paid attention to the weather, as a line of thunderstorms passed through.

We got quite a bit of rain, and wind. And, later saw a rainbow that made a full arch. It was the first time that my son had seen a rainbow.

We also finished the first Lord of the Rings movie. My son was impressed with it: he seems to think it's in the same league as the Bionicles movies. Which, for him, is high praise.

Sunday, June 15, 2008. Father's Day.

Back to today.

It took a bit of time and effort for #2 daughter to wake me up this morning. She would get a response out of me and then I'd start snoring again, she tells me.

We had another talk with my father, I washed dishes while #2 daughter and my son got the van packed. I dropped #2 daughter off at her place in Moorhead. Next stop was Fergus Falls, where my son and I had a meal at Debbie's Homestyle Kitchen: that's been a bit of a tradition for trips up to the Red River Valley.

"And a good time was had by all," as my father would say. It was a good trip, all around.

There'd been rain in Sauk Centre, too. It's going to be a muddy Monday to work on the Ash Street Project.

My son brought in all of the stuff they'd packed, after I parked the van in the back yard. He explained that he was looking for a particular item that #2 daughter had packed in the van - an alarm clock/radio with an alarm that can be set to two times, I'm told.

There's quite a bit of stuff piling up here, by this time.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thursday: Ash Street Project Takes Trees

It's been a hectic week, but I don't feel like I'm getting anything done. I think that's partly because I've been bouncing back and forth between tasks. Take yesterday, for example. I got off to a good start, updating blogs, when I heard thunder.

That stopped any work on the computers. The lightning that goes with thunder doesn't mix well with electronics. So, I picked up a pencil-and-paper project before going through about a half-dozen books about Julius Caesar, Herod, and Hannibal. Then back to the blogs.

Today was off to a good start, although I got distracted in the morning. Our son and I spent quite a bit of time watching the three old elms in front of the house get cut down. I'm going to miss those old trees.

On the other hand, we've got a much better view of the western sky, and probably avoided a very unpleasant surprise. The guy who was using the saw told me that when he got through the tree's hard shell, a few inches thick, there wasn't any resistance. And, water started pouring out. That tree was rotting on the inside. At least this way, we had a skilled crew to bring it down in a controlled way.

#3 daughter had a good idea this morning. She realized that the young man out front was doing heavy work in what was shaping up to be a hot summer day, so she decided to start a batch of cookies. With some assistance from my wife, they got made, along with a pitcher of lemonade.

My wife's the one who actually took a small fold-up table with the fixings on it out, got the young man's attention with a definite "hey!" and let him know that there were snacks available.

Somewhat later, he told me, "good food," with a cookie in one hand. His enunciation was a little muffled, since he was getting the words out around another cookie. I'm glad this household was able to put out some food. Those guys work hard.

I spent over an hour at the small publishing house where I used to work, sorting out some software and data handling issues they had. Next stop was the post office, to get some things mailed.

The rest of the day and evening was punctuated with severe thunderstorm watches and warnings: none of which did more than drop quite a bit of rain on us, happily.

Now, I should start finishing yesterday's entry in the Sauk Centre Journal.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Transitions: Chairs, Books, and a Call from Hospice

Today, one of the kids noted that we had enough chairs to seat the whole family: aunts, uncles, and cousins. I'm not entirely convinced: it's a big family. Still, we've got a lot more chairs in the house now, than we did last week.

I've been going through my father's books. I think we've got the lot here, now. He had several copies of Gibbon's "Fall of the Roman Empire." I was able to reduce it to two: one with an index and my father's notes, the other with quite decent illustrations. I wound up with two "Don Quixote" translations: I've found knowledgeable sources which say that each is a fine translation and the other a waste of paper; and I don't have the time to learn seventeenth-century Spanish, to decide for myself which is the better translation. Now, I'm going through multiple books on Herod, Hannibal, Julius Caesar, and Herodotus. My wife hopes that I'll be willing to part with some of them.

It's a fascinating exercise: I haven't done this much reading and evaluation of his lungs aren't able "literature" in quite a while. It's also rather sad. My father and I have very similar interests, although he's been more informed about Rome, where I've become better versed in some technical subjects.

I doubt that he'll be reading these again. The books aren't "light" reading: figuratively or literally. Some of those books are downright heavy.

My father's mind is still sharp, but he has to work hard to pull oxygen in through his damaged lungs. there isn't all that much left for holding up a weighty tome.

On the other hand, he was able to pull himself up by the 'trapeze' (that cable-and-bar arrangement you see sometimes over hospital beds). Once he got his head up past the head of the bed, something happened and he dropped back.

Problem is, he'd shifted position by then, so his head clipped part of the bed. That's why someone from Hospice called. He's got what the medicos call a 'tear' about the size of a quarter on his head. Hurts like the dickens, I gather, but it's been treated and shouldn't be too much of a problem. Didn't even need stitches or staples.

This isn't the cheeriest time in my life. No complaints: My wife and I got to raise four of our kids, and I'm part of a great family. But my father and I are now dealing with the fact that he's got a "terminal condition," ast a form I signed recently put it.

Clearing out my parent's house, going through my father's books, and doing paperwork to transfer financial responsibility, remind me that my father is getting ready for the end of his life.

It may be weeks, months, or, maybe, years, but soon I won't be able to hear what my father has to say about being a father, dealing with the passing years, ruling families of Ancient Rome, or quack grass.

I'll miss that.

Monday: Here Comes the Heavy Machinery

Our son and I had a good time this morning, watching the curbs being pulled up on our block. We were both taking pictures. He's expressed the opinion that "it's so cool." several times now.

I could feel the ground bounce, when the oversized backhoe tapped a particularly recalcitrant bit of concrete, near the corner. The operator really knows his stuff, handling the bucked as if he could feel with it.

In fact, the way the bucket moved, when moving a section of concrete into a better position for lifting, reminded me of the way some dogs will push things around with their muzzle.

I spent most of the day either writing or working on a graphics project, punctuated by a visit to that exercise place. Our son got more lawn mowing done, my wife has been bringing order to the apparent chaos of the stuff that she and the others brought last weekend, and #3 daughter has been doing homework.

One of the characteristics of home schooling, at least the way we do it, is that you're never really away from school. Not a bad way to work things, I think.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Sunday: Sunshine, Family, Grilling

It's been a beautiful day. #1 daughter came down from Alex to spend the day with us, always a pleasure. She spent most of her time with #3 daughter and our son, but I got a little talking in with the firstborn of the family.

Our son is excited about a movie, "WALL-E," that's coming out later this month. So am I, for that matter. The show about a little robot looks like fun.

I grilled burgers after church, and didn't incinerate them too badly. While I was doing that, a bird (a baltimore oriole, I think) and a squirrel were having a sort of discussion in the tree south of the grill. The topic, pretty clearly, was which had the better claim to a particular branch. I think the oriole won.

The next branch over is where orioles built a nest last year.

I took a nap (not my usual practice) in the afternoon. That was probably a good idea.

My wife and #3 daughter are resting up from a very, very, busy weekend. I found that they hadn't entirely cleared out the house up in the Red River Valley. There's some left for me to do.

Still, filling a good-size rental truck, a trailer, and the back of a pickup, put a sizable dent in what's left to do. And, since the storage company apparently wasn't able to get the unit ready (or the previous users didn't return the keys), what was supposed to go into a 10 x 20 storage unit is now in our house. It's getting a bit cosy in here.

Three trees, each with a pink "X" on them: due to be removed next week.

The Ash Street Project will probably reach our house tomorrow, or very soon after. That means that it won't be long before the three big trees in front of the house will be gone soon. #1 daughter hugged the southernmost one this morning.

I'm none too happy to see them go. But, I tried negotiating with the city about it: and couldn't convince them. That wasn't too surprising, since a photo of them had been used as an example of how some trees absolutely had to go.

Still, it was worth a try.

I've got a webcam set up, looking at the north side of the corner of ninth and Ash Street, that should give a pretty good look at some of the street work.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Saturday: Our Son and I Had the House to Ourselves

It's been quite a couple of days. My wife and #3 daughter spend much of Friday and most of today at my dad's place, visiting my dad and clearing the house for renters. One of my brothers-in-law and his wife took them up, picking up a moving van in Fargo-Moorhead, I understand. That left our son and me at the house with ourselves.

Friday was the last day of school for our son. He was none too happy to see the school year end. Particularly since his friends who were in sixth grade won't be in the combined-grade class he was in next year. On a happier note, he returned with stuff he'd cleared out of his desk, and some treats.

One of those was a can of instant string. He showed me how it works, spraying it over part of the family room. He offered to spray me, but I declined. Another treat was a bottle of 'stocky bubbles' - act like ordinary soap bubbles, except that when they touch a surface, they don't pop: they stick. Since he blew them in the living room, they stuck to the living room floor.

He agreed to wipe down that part of the floor: which is now quite clean.

He also mowed the yard Friday. Part of the yard, that is. He also got bored, doing a straight back-and-forth pattern, so part of the back yard had long grass with curvy paths through it.

I had a talk with a representative of one of the companies that are doing the Ash Street Project. He was touching base again, about what needs to be done in the front yard. My wife has been handling that, so I answered general questions, and made a note for my wife to contact him on Monday.

There are pink Xs on the three big trees in front, by the street. They'll be gone after next week. Can't say I'm happy about that, but I knew they would be cut down, when the city used them as an example of trees that would have to go.

Our son cut over most of the creative mowing today, and helped me set up for my wife and all coming home. More accurately, making room for the stuff they brought with them.

My wife and #3 daughter got home around 8:30 or 9:00, with my brother-in-law in his wife. And a van full of stuff, plus what they'd strapped onto a trailer or onto their truck. Following my wife's instructions, our son had fries and hot dogs ready for them. They'd done a lot of work already that day, and did more when they got here.

I tried helping them, but decided they'd get the job done with less trouble if I stayed more toward the sidelines. I settled down at the computer in the north room. Later, when it was time for me to read Garfield with him, he shifted some material around, so he could get to me - and so I could get out.

This weekend's work has cleared my dad's place, except, I understand, for two beds for us to sleep in when we go up there. That was pretty good work: and now we're ready for those renters, whenever they're ready to move in.

It's good to have more of the family under the roof.
Unique, innovative candles
Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle online store

On Twitter, I'm Aluwir