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!

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