Saturday, May 31, 2008

Saturday: Backyard Grilling, Kids and Computers

The Ash Street Project reached our house this morning. A 'street-chewer' went back and forth, slicing up the pavement and dropping dirt in its place, while another machine with a scoop smoothed out the dirt's surface.

I was as excited about our son, but I think he had more fun. He exchanged a few words with one of the drivers during a break, and told me that he was very friendly. "This is so cool!" is the way our son summed up having the street work in front of our house.

My wife and #3 daughter were out, getting groceries and visiting the Sauk Centre Grandpa, when the street work started here. Happily, they were able to get back into the driveway.

Despite the weather forecast, Sauk Centre didn't have wild weather today. I understand there was a tornado watch near Brainerd, and more severe thunderstorms south and east of here: and I don't mind missing the excitement, or Brainerd's 3/4 inch hail.

Back here in Sauk Centre, I had clear skies for grilling lunch. And, did a pretty good job with the burgers. I also, while walking around the back yard, encountered my first mosquito of summer.

I set up the webcam in a north window so that people could see through it again, swept the three main rooms on the first floors, and found out that I've still got problems with one bit of software. Oh, well: there's probably a way around that last point.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday: Getting Caught Up

Friday, May 30, 2008. I've got some catching up to do.

My wife and #3 daughter took the van this morning, with the usual 'goodbye.' I assumed, of course, that this was their usual Friday morning routine that included a visit with the Sauk Centre grandpa.

I noticed that she'd left a serving of stew for me to have at lunch, which is a little unusual: but I assumed that she'd be back around 12:30 or 1:00, which sometimes happens.

Around 1:30, I decided that this wasn't a routine Friday for her. Around 4:45, #3 daughter called, brightly informing me that the two ladies were on their way home from St. Cloud, and that my wife would fed our son and me when they got home.

I'd forgotten that those two had an appointment in St. Cloud today. They also decided to visit my wife's sister and family who live in that town.

Meanwhile, back here, I'd been spending the day doing some long-overdue maintenance on my laptop. In late morning, #1 daughter showed up with some laundry to do. She also needed to pick up a belt for her job in Alexandria.

The two of us had some good talking while she did the laundry and I did my laptop file work.

Our son arrived after school, showed #1 daughter and me a detail of a Bionicle magazine that he'd spotted. It was one of those 'find the details' puzzles: a scene based on the new Indiana Jones movie, with Star Wars detail hidden in the background. Our son had found an X-Wing among a flock of birds.

Now, what's happened this week?

Tuesday, May 27. I woke early, got the computer to Alexandria and the computer store, stayed in town on the chance that the technicians could get the work done that day. I'd brought around paper-and-pen work, to make good use of the time. Also, at 2:30, #1 daughter was off duty, so we got together and talked. That was a good time.

I'd driven by her place twice before, to see if her car was there. Both times, and the third time when she was in, police were in the process of stopping someone on the highway.

I can see why. That particular spot is in town, with quite a bit of traffic coming out of a largely residential area. The speed limit is a reasonable 30 miles and hour. But, an inattentive driver could assume that it was open highway: and quite a few do.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008. I did my routine research, writing and blogging, but at a much slower rate than usual. This laptop isn't as fast as the 'main' computer. I also got some housework done. That's good exercise, actually.

Late in the afternoon, I got a call from the computer store. The main computer was working again: and should continue to do so for a while.

Thursday, May 29, 2008. I went to Alexandria this afternoon, talked with Naomi - and washed a sink-full of dishes at her place - picked up the computer, and returned home.

And, it's getting late, here in Friday, May 30. Time to call it a day.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Monday, Memorial Day (Observed): Steak on the Grill, and Kids in the House

My wife, our son, #3 daughter and #2 daughter, spent most of the day at the Sauk Centre granpda's place. I remained here, to get work done on a laptop - that's a great deal slower than the computer I hope can be in working order after tomorrow's appointment.

Part of the extended family was there for the weekend - including an assortment of cousins. Actually, they're my nieces and nephews, but I think of them as "the cousins," since that's the relationship they have to our kids.

Apart from a few tasks done, it's been a pretty calm, quiet day for me. Having the house to myself is a bit of a treat - although I'd never trade the calm of solitude for the noisy, hectic blessings that a family gives.

My wife let me grill steak for supper tonight. She, our son, and #3 daughter came home for the evening meal. i had a good time grilling the steak - and got them properly done this time. (I learn! I learn!)

#2 daughter came home, after being called by my wife and reminded that she needed to leave, if she was going to get back to Moorhead in time for a good night's sleep. She goes back to work tomorrow. She came, we saw her off - and she called when she arrived. I really appreciate that check-in.

While grilling, I noticed that over half of the dandelions in the back yard had gone to seed since yesterday. It's rather pretty - the array of yellow dots against a green background is now a mosaic of white puffs and yellow disks. The dandelion is an attractive flower - but grows much to easily here in North America.

Later in the evening, I had our son help me disconnect the main computer, so I could have it ready to go tomorrow morning. When he disconnected the monitor, he noticed that the status lights start a left-to-right repeating scan. I agree with him: it's a cool effect.

Sunday: Church, Grilling, Kids and Cousins

We had all four kids under the roof this afternoon, and part of the evening. My wife and the kids, plus a cousin who had followed our lot home from church, left around mid-afternoon to get together with some more of the family that had gathered at the Sauk Centre grandfather's house.

That left me alone, which was a fine idea. I got some organizing done, unearthing a few things I'd been looking for, and eliminating several places that some software CDs could have been put. #1 daughter came back after supper to see how I was doing, and to talk. That was nice of her.

one of the extra kids here this afternoon was a friend of our son's, I discovered on closer examination. He's about the same size as at least one of the cousins, and the way the kids move around, I don't always get a chance for a detailed look.

Our son and I helped the visitor phone home. He had the phone number down pat, but hadn't taken the area code into account: he was calling his mom's cell phone.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Sunday Morning, Memorial Day Weekend

I got up (no small feat), got ready and went to church with the family, and returned with #1 daughter, too. We now have a full compliment under the roof.

Our son got a learning-German book today, and is delighting in it. While #1 daughter kept me company and I grilled burgers for lunch, he regaled us with statements from the book.

That inspired me to compose a few words for a song. The tune is "Faith of our Fathers," the words are: "Speech of our fathers, rasping still: with glottal stops and rude-sounding words...."

I'm delighted that our son is excited about learning German. We've got a generation with some level of competence in Norwegian, German, and Spanish now.

Saturday: Memorial Day Weekend, Family, and Quality Time

Our son and I had 'quality time' today. My wife, one of my brothers-in-law, and #3 daughter were in the Red River Valley of the North. Accompanied by #2 daughter, who they had picked up on the way.

We had a 'guys only' day, fixing meals, working on computers, and hanging out in a quite satisfactory way. Our son told me that he enjoyed the time. We were driving back from a trip to the grocery at the time. We ran out of lemon juice, and picked up a few other items why we were there.

The ladies and my brother-in-law returned, several jumps ahead of rain. It's been a windy day up here: nothing compared to the wild weather south of us, thankfully.

We had time to unpack and unload a pickup and trailer. The garage has a fair number of items in it now, and the living room. Quite a number of the things brought back are bookshelving. I can use that: This household has quite a few books.

We had a good talk, after unloading the truck and trailer. My brother-in-law had gone over to the Sauk Centre grandpa's house. There's going to be a bit of a get-together there tomorrow, I think.

I heard that the ladies had quite a time finding #2 daughter. Somehow, they missed the Moorhead exit, and crossed the river into Fargo. I think that was it. One of the statements my brother-in-law gave, to help things along, was "we're turning left at the homeless person."

I like the family I married into: They've got quite a sense of humor.

#2 daughter hung out with me for a while this evening, as I got caught up in another blog.

And now, it's time to get some sleep.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Friday: Busy Day, Quiet Evening

My wife and #3 daughter are in the Red River Valley of the North tonight. One of my brothers-in-law picked them up around noon. The three of them will be spending most of tomorrow up at the farm, getting some fixing-up done, and - I expect - visiting my father.

While they were getting ready to go, I got a call from the case worker who's taking over with my father. The lady I've been hearing from is taking maternity leave. The call got wrapped up in time for me to talk with my brother-in-law, and say my goodbyes.

My wife left detailed instructions taped to the kitchen table. She also, looking me straight in the eyes, emphasized particularly important points. Mostly, she wanted to be sure that I picked up our son at 6:00. And, that I eat what I'm supposed to in her absence.

During the day, I did some organizing and cleaning, started a writing project, and remembered to pick up our son.

He'd been at the birthday party of one of his friends, and had thoroughly enjoyed himself. He told me so several times on the way home, along with detail about an air hockey table his friend's family has.

After we got home, he spent an hour putting a party favor together: a clip-together race car made of cardboard, with a friction motor. It was a complicated model, and when works pretty well. One time, it even did a 180-degree skidding turn.

#1 daughter called three times this evening. She'd decided to stretch her food budget by fishing, and had caught a fish. She'd never cleaned a fish before. She was rather non-plussed at the way the fish's head kept moving, after being removed. No calls after that, so I assume that she enjoyed her meal.

Her rabbit, Giol, was in fine shape, although wanting a bit more attention than usual.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Thursday: Beautiful Day with Road Work

The Ash Street Project is coming from both ends now. North of here, the street is a broad trench a couple of yards deep, as near as I could see. To the south, they've dug a strip on the east side of the street for the new sidewalk.

I was out, enjoying another 'typical' Minnesota day, getting in the day's exercise, and picking up a fan for the attic window. I was up there earlier in the day, looking for software boxes and disks. Even with today's mild temps, it was overly warm up there.

I've got plans for the Memorial Day weekend that include getting some serious reading done, and the attic would be a good spot for that. We'll see what happens.

My wife, our son, and #3 daughter went to Soo Bahk Do again tonight.

I'm sure that more happened today, but it isn't coming to mind right now.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The top event of the day was my wife and #3 daughter's recital this evening. We set off in plenty of time to get to Camphill Village, about 12 miles north of town, with time left over for the ladies to get their instruments tuned.

As we were driving up Highway 71, #3 daughter asked me if a particular road was the one we were supposed to turn off on. I replied, 'no,' and drove on. A few miles later, my wife observed that we'd gone too far.

They were both right. We'd gone too far, and I should have turned at the road #3 daughter asked about.

We got there in time, though.

And, the recital went well. It was nice, listening to the music, and one of the babies near me decided that I was someone to smile at.

The other major event of the day was my main computer developing some sort of trouble - most likely with its hard drive. The earliest I can bring it in to be fixed is Tuesday, next week. Frustrating, but I'm hopeful that I haven't lost the data.

Meanwhile, my webcam that looks at Ash Street is out of service.

When I told our son that I planned to use my old laptop to stand in for the main computer on the Ash Street webcam, he said he'd thought of the same thing - which I believe - and added, "great minds think alike, hmm?" That's my boy.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tuesday: Getting Back to Routines

Our son is looking forward to a birthday party later this week: Friday, I think. My wife and #3 daughter went out to get groceries, and the van is unpacked from the weekend's trip.

I went out this afternoon, to exercise at Fitness Guru, and to take photos of the Ash Street Project's progress. Also, to enjoy a beautiful spring/early summer day. The trees in the back yard are leafing out, with a sort of mist of pale yellow-green surrounding the branches.

Apart from that, I've been getting caught up with the weekend's messages, and setting myself up for the rest of the week's work.

This would be a good place to review what happened over the weekend.

Saturday, May 17, 2008.

After bucking a stiff headwind from Sauk Centre to the Red River Valley of the North, I picked up #2 daughter in Moorhead. To save gas, she rode with me the rest of the way. That was not only efficient, it gave me an extra hour to talk with her.

When we got to the farm, I unpacked my case and discovered that I'd brought my laptop, as planned, so that I could get some work done over the weekend. I'd also remembered the laptop's base, with the fans that help cool it.

Just one problem: I'd left the power source back in Sauk Centre. Since the batteries don't work, that left me with a laptop that made a pretty good paperweight - and not much more.

I was peeved. Quite thoroughly peeved.

Then I took a nap. While I was settling in for a few Zs, I heard a rhythmic knocking. When I woke up, #2 daughter told me that she'd cut down some small trees that had started growing near the foundation.

Sunday, May 18, 2008.

#2 daughter and I went to church at St. Rose of Lima. (I checked, and found that St. Rose of Lima is the patron saint of America.)

Later in the morning, I saw my father, and presented #2 daughter's tatting work - a butterfly - and put it on the bulletin board. #2 daughter decided to spend the time picking up groceries, since she's got a cough and sneeze that might not be allergies.

My father and I talked about #2 daughter, her job, and other family stuff: and also how he gets help in organizing his papers there.

I picked up #2 daughter after that, we ate lunch, and I was back to talk with my father. A nurse at the desk mentioned that I'm very much like my father. I've heard that quite a bit over the decades - and still enjoy the experience.

Back at the farm, #2 daughter and I talked about a fan fic of hers - based on "Men in Black" this time - before supper. After the meal, I snorted, an external sign of a thought that had popped into my mind. #2 daughter asked what that was about, so I explained that I'd have to find out when the balloons went up tomorrow: there was to be a sort of memorial service the next day. I thought I'd have to call my wife to get the information. #2 daughter gave me a look and said, "with me around? Please!" She knew what time it was, of course.

After supper, #2 daughter and I watched a "Babylon 5" movie, talked, and #2 daughter packed stuff. I played as much as I could remember of Bach's Prelude in C Major on the piano. #2 daughter finished the piece for me.

Mom had tried to teach me how to play piano on that instrument, back when I was a pre-teen. A surprising amount of her efforts found a home somewhere in my mind, and have stayed with me. Playing on that piano was a very sentimental experience.

#2 daughter told me about technical changes in the harpsichord which had made Bach's work possible to play - the new sort of harpsichord was "well-tempered clavier." That's what I get for having a music major for a daughter. Now I know that a clavier was a particular type of keyboard instrument, but that the name became a generic word for any musical instrument with a keyboard: something like what happened to Kleenex.

Monday, May 19, 2008. I went to town, talked with Dad again, returned to the farm, then went back to town. Talked again, and then went to that memorial: as a sort of representative of the family. It was a nice ceremony. I particularly appreciated the "I come to the garden alone" song.

Then, everyone went outside (about two dozen people attended). A poem was read, then we released the balloons. The release of balloons hadn't taken the day's wind into account. Those white balloons whipped off to the west at a very respectable clip.

Then, it was time to finish packing and return. #2 daughter gave me supper at her place in Moorhead. I picked up coffee at Debbie's Home Style Kitchen in Fergus Falls (a sort of tradition), and arrived back in Sauk Centre around 9:00.

Then, #3 daughter's birthday being nearby, my wife and I, and our son, sang "Happy Birthday to You," and presented her with a cake and presents.

That didn't leave me with much more to do, except read Garfield to our son, and sing what we call "Bee Bye Boh."

Which brings me up to date.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Tears, Balloons, and Unexpected Outcomes

I spent the weekend up in the Red River Valley of the North, spending time with #2 daughter, getting some family business taken care of, and visiting my dad. Also, this afternoon, attending a sort of memorial ceremony at the nursing. It was a remembrance of the people - some two dozen - who had been residents there, and had died since last year at this time.

I was there, because my mother died there February 23 of this year. I'll be feeling that for a long time.

Today's ceremony involved a white balloon for each of the deceased people. The idea was that, after a little music and talk inside, one would take a balloon representing the deceased loved one, we'd all walk outside, listen to a touching poem, and release the balloon.

The process went rather well. There wasn't much of a drizzle outside, and the wind wasn't what it had been earlier.

In fact, to my surprise, the balloons all cleared the metal trim at the top of the building.

Then, they encountered the trees, a little farther downwind.

With sounds reminiscent of a warming tray of popcorn, the balloons started popping.

I think one or two made it through the arboreal mine field.

My guess is that this isn't quite what the event organizers had in mind.

Still: it was a touching and well-intentioned ceremony.

The music, which included "In the Garden," was a treat. That one song, "In the Garden," was particularly important, since it's associated with my grandmother - and mother. That's the old song that starts:
"I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses;
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses...."

That brought a few tears to my eyes.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Friday: Week Done, Weekend Starts

I see I missed the two highlights, if that's the right word, of yesterday.

Earlier this week, backing the van out of the back yard, we'd heard a loud 'bang!' from around the right rear wheel. I got the van into the garage yesterday, and it's a good thing that I did. One of two brake cables in the right rear wheel was broken, and so was the wheel bearing.

The guys at the garage got everything fixed by 5:30, which was quite satisfactory. The van doesn't make those funny sounds now, and I don't miss them a bit.

My wife, our son, and #3 daughter went to Soo Bahk Do class last night, and #3 daughter came back with something extra: a dislocated toe. She assured me that it hurt. #3 daughter used my 'other' cane for the rest of the evening, and this morning.

Tonight, she cheerfully informed me that the pain was gone. I believe her: she's walking without the cane now.

After yesterday's excitement, today was pretty routine. I did more to have my online work wrapped up for the weekend and Monday. It's going to be a busy weekend.

My wife and #3 daughter were out, twice, for music lessons, to talk with her dad, and go to rummage sales. #3 daughter came home with a prom dress from - 1956, I think. It looks pretty good. I'm no expert, but some of those styles either never go out of fashion, or recycle. What she's going to use it for, I have no idea.

My wife told me that I should go over to her dad's place. One of my brothers-in-law was there, with about a half-dozen fainting goats. So, I went.

My wife told me not to touch the fence, since it was electrified. My father-in-law told me not to touch the fence. My brother-in-law told me not to touch the fence.

I didn't touch the fence: a temporary affair my brother-in-law had rigged across part of the Sauk Centre Grandpa's back yard.

The goats were having a fine time, grazing and socializing. I asked my brother-in-law why he had the things. Turns out, they're valuable right now, and since he got them, he hasn't had to mow his back yard. Unlike sheep, these goat crop the grass down to an appropriate level, and leave it at that.

They're also, I'm told, more entertaining that television. From what I saw of them, I believe it. A trio of them came to eat some grain he put out, and were (I'm told) remarkably well-behaved about sharing the treasure.

I had a chance to see a bit of the individual personalities he talked about, too. The little billy was, ah, assertive, and one of the others had attitude. She was pushing the big billy around at one point. The latter was named "Stinky" by the former owner.

Naturally, I couldn't leave without taking a few photos:

And, a photo of one of my favorite places on Earth.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Still Catching Up: Mother's Day Weekend and After

I'd remembered to get something for my wife this Mother's Day: recordings of the third season of "Hawaii 5-O." She's quite a fan of that series, and Jack Lord.

Our son brought a plant home from school on Friday. It made it all the way to the front stoop. Then, he told me, it jumped out of his hand and spilled about a third of its dirt. The flower is okay, but will need a refill of soil.

Our son was quite peeved about the situation.

Catherine was under the weather over the Mother's Day weekend, which put a crimp in a family tradition. Happily, #2 daughter and our son were able to get a ride with the Sauk Centre grandpa to the annual family get-together at one of my wife's brothers' place.

I stayed with her, along with #3 daughter, who also wasn't feeling too well. For that matter, neither was I. I've made the joke before, about families doing things together: I didn't intend to follow that principle with the bug, but that's how it happened.

We're all better today. It's been an interesting week, though.

I think it was Tuesday morning, when I woke up at about 3:15. around 5:00, I decided that I might as well get some work done, since I obviously wasn't going to sleep.

Our son was on the main computer. He says that he hadn't noticed what time it was, so didn't realize that he was breaking the rule about his not using the computer until after 6:00 at the earliest.

More happened during the week, but that's what comes to mind right now. I've been a bit preoccupied, getting ready for another special weekend. More about that later.

We got a call from #2 daughter this evening. Or, rather, I got the call. She was surprised to hear that my wife had gone to Soo Bahk Do practice: considering how my wife had been feeling a few days ago. I also think there may have been some wishful thinking involved. #2 daughter enjoys talking with my wife.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Catching up: May, 2008

Finally, I'm getting caught up. It's been quite a week.

Friday, May 2, 2008. After our son came home from school, he and I set off for The Red River Valley of the North, to visit grandpa, and get some moving done. Also, for me to spend time with our son and #2 daughter.

There was a stiff wind, so our son and I caught up on several semis on the way. One of them Looked like it had a cab on both ends.

Our son and I talked most of the way from Sauk Centre to Moorhead. I don't remember about what, but it was a good time.

We picked up #2 daughter in Moorhead. Also all the stuff that was in her dorm room. It took a while to load it in the van. It took a while for her and our son to get everything transferred and for her to get the paperwork done, but she made it out with several minutes to spare.

While helping, mostly by staying out of the way, I noticed a sign on the dorm hall wall. Apparently, about $5,000 worth of tableware has been stolen from the food service this way. The sign pointed out that there were options: return the stuff, or have tuition increases next year.

I don't know how many knives, forks, and plates it takes to add up to $5,000 these days, but my guess is that it's not a trivial number. A few light-fingered people in a community are par for the course, but this seemed a bit special. Particularly since the students involved were stealing from an institution that would be passing the costs back to them. Not smart. As I said to #2 daughter: "This bunch of klepto nincompoops are tomorrow's leaders?!"

#2 daughter followed us in her car up to the farm. We unpacked, then talked. Mostly about music. Sara remembered the lyrics to several country songs. Country music certainly has changed in the half-century I've been aware of it.

Saturday, May 3, 2008. I woke up, talked with our son and #2 daughter. Our son had found old PC World Magazines, and was skimming them to find the ones that he'd bring back. He has limited storage space, and has to be selective.

Our son and #2 daughter had the farmstead's computer, keyboard, mouse and external hard drive out and packed by the time I got downstairs.

#2 daughter packed her 'new' car, then the three of us went for a walk in the woods. A couple of access paths have been cut through the old timber claim, making it easier to clear fallen trees and brush out. They also make excellent walking paths.

There are a lot of memories in that house. It was good to be there again.

Our son and I went to church at what we call the "Lima bean church" (St. Rose of Lima) in Hillsboro. Meanwhile, #2 daughter fixed supper. The three of us ate supper and started watching "Kindergarten Cop" - a good show. While we were watching, a moderately nonchalant mouse trotted unobtrusively out from behind the couch, behind the television, then across the kitchen to the hallway.

Trotting, not running.

Later in the evening, #2 daughter and I talked over details of a sort of 'fan fic' she's doing. (fan fic - story written by a fan of a television series or movie, using characters and settings from the original in new plots)

#2 daughter's fan fic is set in "Babylon 5," a series we're both familiar with. When we were done, she told me that I helped, bless her.

Sunday, May 4, 2008. Our son and #2 daughter packed the van, then we went to see Dad / Grandpa Gill. He was asleep, so I took photos of birds. He was still sleeping after that, which gave us an opportunity to get lunch back at the farmstead.

The three of us named three of the birds while I took photos. The professor and the truck driver would have looked more like their namesakes in a video. The professor was chewing on something too small to see, so that bird seemed to be continually talking. The truck driver was chewing, too, on a longer bit of stuff - it looked like a toothpick in the bird's beak. I see it didn't show up in the photo, though.

Back at the farm, we collected papers to take back to Sauk Centre 'for analysis,' and went into town again. This time Dad/Grandpa Gill was awake. We had a good talk.

Later, headed for Sauk Centre on the Interstate, our son said that he liked talking to Grandpa Gill, because 'Grandpa Gill has such a library in knowledge in his head.' I remember Dad telling me that he'd pick a book from the shelves when he took a turn at the reference desk, to have something to read when students weren't asking questions. That sort of thing adds up after a while.

I spotted a different sort of vanity license plate, between Moorhead and Fergus Falls. It said, "NEENER."

Monday, May 5, 2008. Back in Sauk Centre, it was daily routines for me: plus catching up on Web-related stuff that didn't get done over the weekend; and getting that bulletin that I edit ready for printing.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008. More of the same, more or less.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008. I got the bulletin to the printers this morning, which was a relief. The rest of the week is a bit fuzzy.

For that matter, the next week was a bit fuzzy, too. I know I was getting tasks done - I've been keeping running notes of business-related activities. I do remember feeling a little frazzled. I felt good, but frazzled.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

My Wife Washed My Coffee Cup!

When I got back from the weekend trip that I wrote about earlier, I discovered that my coffee cup was no longer in its usual position. After several minutes of searching, a thought hit me.

Moments later, I was checking the dishwasher. There, near the front of a clean load, was my coffee cup.

Clean. Outside and inside.

Holding the now-white cup in my hand, I showed my wife the now characterless container.

She acknowledged that my coffee would taste different now, but observed that it should be back to normal in a few weeks.

Stiff Upper Lip? Imperturbable? Ha!

I got my eight hours sleep last night, but night before last I may have gotten in an hour: around midnight. Other than that, insomnia city.

Looking at my task checkoff list, I see that I've got a lot of catching up to do for the first part of this week. And, more to the point, I haven't updated this blog.

There's a reasonable explanation, I think. Over the weekend, I went up to the Red River Valley of the North, to see my father, and get some family work done. It was also a 'birthday' trip for our son: delayed. This was the first time that schedules and bugs made room.

#2 daughter joined us in Moorhead, and went up to the farm in her car.

It was a good trip.

Our son and I had a great time, talking all the way up to the farm, and most of the way back. We had a good time with #2 daughter, too, although the talking with her happened at the farm.

While there, we talked with my dad a couple times. I'm glad we did. His lungs are failing, and each time we go I think that this may be the last chance I'll have to talk with him face-to-face.

He's doing okay, all things considered. His arms are thinner than I've ever seen, and a conversation with him has to end in less than half an hour: Interstitial lung disease is stiffening the parts of his lungs that exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen.

As he (inaccurately) said during our first talk this weekend, "there's not much left of me." Not true: he's still there, all of him. What's changed is that he now is having severe problems with part of his body.

As our son said, 'I like talking with grandpa: he has a library of knowledge in his head.' True enough. I got what I call my sticky mind from him: facts go in, and stick to the walls. And, while he was at the library reference desk, he'd be reading something from the shelves between questions. And he spent quite a few of his evenings reading from his own shelves.

Quite a guy.

And, now he's rather close to the end of his life.

I'll be back, maybe later today, or tomorrow, or whenever.

Friday, May 2, 2008

My Father's Words

We received an audio copy of a 1-hour interview with my father this week. The purpose of the interview was to collect WWII experiences.

Monaural recording of Mr. Gill's Interview

It's a delight to hear his voice. And, have a little more family history available.

The recording is part of an MSU Moorhead oral history project. I looked the project up (Veterans' Oral History). My dad's interview isn't listed there. My first thought was, "well, we are Irish." A little later, I found the official website: ("MSU Moorhead's Collection of Veterans' Stories"), a MSUM project. His interview, and a great many others, are there.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Thursday: Getting Ready for Family Business

Our son learned that a highly-favored teacher is retiring. He's okay with the news, although disappointed. #3 daughter managed to annoy me with the music she was playing today. I'm pretty sure the problem was at my end: I'm trying to get three day's work done by tomorrow noon, so that I'll have a free schedule for dealing with some family business over the weekend.

Happily, #3 daughter and her music were in one room, and I could get my work done in another.

I created a sort of mini-poster, advertising one of my webcams, before going to that exercise place. I put one of them on the bulletin board there. We'll see what, if anything, comes of that.

My wife, #3 daughter, our son went to Soo Bahk Do class this evening, so our son missed a call from one of his friends. By the time I get involved in that again, my wife will be so far ahead, that I'll never catch up. Which is okay, of course.

And,of course, our son and I read Garfield - and talked - before his bedtime.

The School, the Woodpile, the Skunk, and the Dynamite: A Small-Town Memory

Times have changed, here in 'small town America,' just like everywhere else. About 4,000 people live in Sauk Centre today. About 90 are meth users live here, and gang graffiti has shown up in town ("Small town, big city problems" (Sauk Centre Herald (April 29, 2008)).

The 'good old days' had problems, too. A case in point:

Back around the period when my in-laws were growing up, kids brought firearms to school on a pretty regular basis. Hunting rifles. This is still a rural area, and back then quite a few kids liked to get a little hunting in on their way home.

It was during that time that some kids noticed a skunk in the school playground. They didn't want it around, for obvious reasons. Worse, it had gone to earth in a woodpile leaning against the school. It wouldn't budge, and the kids wouldn't rest until the the skunk was gone.

One of them ran home and returned with dynamite, fuse, and a detonator that the family used routinely to shift recalcitrant stumps and boulders.

The kid knew how to set a charge, and within minutes the skunk was gone. Along with the woodpile and most of the paint on that side of the school.

These days, Sauk Centre would have been in the national news, some of the kids in therapy, and legal wrangling in the courts for years afterward.

Back then, the kids weren't off the hook until they re-painted the wall. After that, life went on.

Wednesday: Another Beautiful Day; and I Got Something Done

There's some family business coming up this weekend, so I'm trying to get a little ahead on my online ventures. That kept me busy for most of the day, but I took time out in the evening to relax with my wife, our son, and #3 daughter in the living room.

#2 daughter called, and talked with my wife for a while. #1 daughter called, too, but my wife asked her to call back, about 9:00. There must have been some sort of communication breakdown. She called back around 10:30, and wanted to know why I hadn't called. We had a good talk after that: short, but good.

Around Monday of this week, I noticed that the van was singing to me. A sort of birdsong, coming from somewhere in the back. Rather pleasant, when regarded as music: but not the sort of thing you want to ignore.

I took the van down to Flowers garage on the north side this morning, and had to wait a while for the loaner car to come back. That gave me a chance to look around more than I usually do.

It's amazing, what you notice when you take time and look: shapes, textures, colors. I've said this before, but for me it's hard to understand how anyone can get bored. We're surrounded by wonders!

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