Saturday, December 11, 2010

Doing This Weekend: What I Should have Done Last Weekend

I got a reminder this afternoon, that the Knights of Columbus bulletin for the local council should have been in the mail. Yesterday.

Uff da.

The good news is that I may, maybe, be able to get the thing done by Monday morning. Then, maybe, the printers will be able to turn it around in time.

Or, not.

Either way, this is going to be - interesting.

Another Weekend

I'd have liked to have been out grilling burgers this noon, but between a light fever, a mild winter storm, and a sensible wife - I've deferred the experience.

Here's what the grill looked like a week ago, after my son shoveled it out:

Last weekend, and this, #1 daughter is here visiting. With her cat, Twitches. Kitten, actually. Cute little thing. Lively, too.

Twitches did a very thorough job of cleaning out that bowl last Saturday.

That 'vest' she's wearing is an Ace bandage. Twitches has a patch of very tender skin on her shoulder - which the bandage and gauze underneath protects. She does not - emphatically not - like the bandage. Or, rather, does not like the process of changing the dressing once or twice a day.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Off the Road

#1 daughter is okay. She called us from the ditch of the Interstate, between Osakis and Alexandria. After calling the State Patrol, and getting a wrecker sent her way.

She'd been staying with us over Thanksgiving weekend. The original idea was that she'd go home Sunday evening. A job came her way, designing a flier, so she extended her visit. The job needed a fairly powerful computer: and my son had what she needed.

I was glad to have her company an extra day.

This afternoon, after getting the final revision done & approved, she packed up and set off for Alexandria. That wasn't as daft as it might seem: snow was letting up here, there was no wind to speak of. And the Weather Service has been known to exaggerate - or miscalculate - a storm's severity.

The Interstate was fine - until around Osakis.

She had company - she and the wrecker passed a few other cars that had gone off the road, too.

She's okay: That's the big thing. So is Twitches, the cat she lives with, who was riding with her.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

About 100 Miles of Errands

The family's van is back. The overheating I mentioned last week (November 20, 2010) was due to a leaky water pump.

We've got a new one now. That, plus a change of oil & filter, and a quick once-over, should take care of the van's maintenance needs for a while.

Famous last words?

I spent the afternoon on the road - going to St. Cloud to get a copy of my son's birth certificate - so that he can get a photo ID - and then stopping in at Melrose on the way back to pick up medications.

I'm looking forward to staying inside tomorrow: the forecast involves sleet, freezing rain - and a winter weather advisory.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Overheated Van, Common-Sense Advice

Yesterday afternoon didn't go quite as-planned.

I thought I was going to drive to St. Cloud, get a copy of my son's birth certificate so that he could get a photo-ID - which in turn would make it possible for him to get tested on a computer maintenance course he's taken - and pick up medications for me.

That was the plan.

I was a few miles out from Sauk Centre when I heard a 'beep' from the dashboard. Never a good sign. The oil warning light was on, and the gauge was climbing to the top of its range.

Several miles later, after coasting in neutral, accelerating to highway speed and repeating the cycle on the shoulder - hazard flashers on, of course - I made it up the Melrose exit, about ten miles from Sauk Centre.

I'd figured how long it would take me to get to St. Cloud at that rate - and the Stearns County offices would have been closed by then.

I called home (sensible act) and told my wife what had happened. I then opined (not-so-sensible thing) that I could get the van back, the same way I got it to Melrose.

I then felt very 'married,' when my wife told me in even, deliberate tones: "Call - Flowers." So I called Flowers Collision service here in town - and eventually got a tow back to Sauk Centre.

I still think I could have coaxed the van back into town - but asking for help was a lot more sensible.

No wonder I've heard that men live, on average, ten years longer if they're married.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Here We Go Again

So, this morning I wake up: and my left ear is plugged again.

During lunch, I pressed the 'reset button' (tragus, that projection just forward of the ear canal) on my left ear. And - pop! - I could hear normally through that ear again.

Aside from the intermittent popping and slurping that goes along with this cold. Or whatever it is. And there's the familiar tinnitus. Rather louder these days.

Aside from that, though: Hey! I can hear in stereo! Wow.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wow! My Other Ear Popped

About 2:30 this afternoon, my left ear 'popped:' and I can now hear more than the inside of my head and low-frequency outside sounds on that side. It's 'nice' to have stereo hearing again.

Now, if I could get rid of this cold. Or whatever it is.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wintry Weather and a Balky Furnace

We woke up this morning - always a good way to start a day. It was a little above freezing outside, and significantly warmer inside.

On the down side, the furnace had quit during the night.

It's about 12:20 now, someone's been here to see what the furnace trouble was: and fixed our pilot light. The house is warming up to winter-normal now.

The situation could have been a lot worse. Quite a few folks in this part of the state lost power yesterday.

And, I see, St. Cloud set a new record for rainfall:
"Wind Storm downs powerlines, trees"
Jim Maurice, WJON WJON Local News (October 27, 2010)

"High winds and heavy rain moved through the area yesterday (Tuesday). The National Weather Service is reporting our highest wind gust at 58 miles an hour last night.

"The strong winds caused many people throughout central Minnesota to lose power. East Central Energy is reporting as many as 2,600 customers without power during the overnight. They say they still have 900 customers without electricity. Xcel Energy says they had over 9,000 customers in greater Minnesota without power at one time, but they are down to 3700 customers now....

"...If you have a tennis match scheduled at Gold's Gym in Sartell today (Wednesday), you're going to have to reschedule. The manager says their inflatable dome has a 30-40 foot tear in it, due to the strong winds last night, causing it to deflate. He says they're hoping to get it fixed and back up by the end of the day.

"We also set a rainfall record for the second day in a row. We officially had 1.44 inches at the St. Cloud Regional Airport. Breaking the old record of 1.33 set in 1941. We've now collected over 2 1/2 inches of rain since Sunday. And, after being dry for most of the month, we're actually .62" above normal now for October....
There was a powdering of snow on the ground in the morning, but it doesn't look like we'll get the one or two inches forecast. Can't say I'd be disappointed to miss that. For the sake of trick-or-treaters, if nothing else.

I took some photos yesterday afternoon. The folks across the street from us lost a branch that's maybe three or four inches in diameter.

Mid-afternoon on South 9th. October 26, 2010.

A closer look at that downed branch. October 26, 2010.

About 4:20 in the afternoon: brisk weather for a walk. October 26, 2010.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Busted Water Pipe, Day 32: Plumbing Progress and Regress

When this Monday dawned, the house had a working bathroom: two, if you count a lavatory. Then, briefly, we had two: or three.

Now it's back to one: or, like I said, two.

We're doing fine, really: No porta potties, and no plans to excavate for an outhouse: which is probably illegal inside Sauk Centre. I'd have to check zoning and other regulations.

The good news is that it isn't the same one that's out of commission at the moment. We're getting some overdue maintenance/repair word done upstairs.

On an unrelated topic, my wife's got a cold now. They say that it's a good idea for couples to do things together - but this probably isn't what that anonymous "they" had in mind. She says that I seem to be on the mend - which may be true. I don't feel sick, or tired, or much of anything else: and thinking isn't as easy to do as I'd like.

Oh well, as we say in Minnesota: It could be worse.

Related posts:

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Busted Water Pipe, Day 26: Tiles Grouted, Burgers Grilled

Thanks to a reminder from #3 daughter and my son, I grilled burgers for supper tonight. Work in the house hasn't directly affected the outdoor grill, but we're in the habit of having fries (which we bake) with the burgers - and that wasn't happening with the oven in storage.

Also, there's now grout between the new tiles.

On an unrelated matter, the local Culligan service called this afternoon. I'd said something nice about them last year, I think it was, and they wanted to know if I was okay with their using my remark in their advertising. I said 'yes,' of course. First, they're an okay outfit. Second, I don't mind the publicity, myself.

Related posts:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Busted Water Pipe, Day 25: Kitchen's Back Online

As of this evening, the oven, the washing machine and the dryer are where they belong and plugged in.

This household is another - big - step closer to getting back to our usual routines. Like preparing most of our food in the kitchen.

This has been an interesting experience: and I'm not at all sorry to see it winding down.

Related posts:

Saturday, October 9, 2010

My Son, the Techie

My son set up and launched his website yesterday evening. 'First' website, I suspect. It's still a work in process, but what I've seen looks good. Granted, I'm biased.

Today he's tweaking the WordPress-powered blog on the website. I told him that I'd be using him as a technical consultant when/if I start hosting my blogs myself - which I might, although Blogger's served me very well.

And you can't beat the price.

In other developments, the flooring project is in process again this morning - and still going well.

I located the stove - also the washer and dryer. They're in an arc, starting west and a little south of my desk, mostly in the west part of the north room. Happily, it's a big room: although with the movable contents of the kitchen and laundry room in here, it doesn't feel like it so much.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Living in a Construction Site

There are much worse things than having a water pipe burst in the house. But that's been enough to disrupt things for this household.

We've been in the rebuilding stage for a while here. And, since my desk and computer are in the north room, just off the kitchen, I have a sort of front-row seat.

As I wrote in another blog, earlier today:
"It's quiet at the moment, but pretty soon this area will be suffused with the rhythms of a staple gun, the shrill sonority of a rotary saw, anon hammerings and scrapings.

"Tranquil it ain't."
(Apathetic Lemming of the North (October 8, 2010))
I took some photos on Wednesday, while the floor was mostly taken apart in three (or four, depending on how you count them) rooms:

Tearing the floors up uncovered a few things that needed fixing. (October 6, 2010)

I'm not going to say that having an indoor water feature in the house was a good thing - but taking up flooring, and what the flooring was sitting on, showed a few spots that needed attention - and made it possible to get the fixing done.

Here's the floor at the foot of the stairs going from the ground to the second floor: or, rather, the floor joists and old subfloor. (October 6, 2010)

If you look closely, the gaps between the old subfloor planks aren't very dark. There's a reason for that. You're looking straight down into the basement, where a light's on.

I'm going to miss being able to see into the basement from the first floor. But not much. (October 6, 2010)

There's smooth flooring in the rooms that needed work now, for the first time in - quite a while. There's going to be a finished surface that goes over that - but I'm glad not to be walking on rough planks and the occasional screw or nail any more.

Just to keep things interesting: as of - early today, I think it was - the refrigerator is in the north room, behind me and to my left as I sit at the desk. It's plugged in, so our food supply is okay. The stove? It's somewhere else. And not plugged in.

I'm going to be glad when the various repair/reconstruction jobs are over.

For the season.

There's quite a lot of work that needs to be done on the east wall of the house - but happily that can wait until spring.

One more thing: My wife and #3 daughter have been off with the Soo Bahk Do class, down in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis-St. Paul to non-Minnesotans). Some sort of test. I expect them back in an hour or so.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Kimchi: Like Sauerkraut, But Spicy

I have now sampled kimchi: Korea's version of sauerkraut. I rather like sauerkraut: Germany's version of kimchi. Kimchi is spicier. And redder.

My wife and #3 daughter brought some kimchi home with them from Soo Bahk Do class tonight. My daughter was - impressed? - that I took a look at it, and ate the entire sample: maybe two or three tablespoons-worth.

My eyes started watering about the same time that she was explaining that she'd just touched some to her tongue.

I think my method allows me to experience it more completely.

And, my sinuses seem to be more open now.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Busted Water Pipe, Day Nine: Getting Back to Normal

Possibly the last of the Servicemaster fellows was here yesterday, cleaning and - sanitizing, I suppose you'd call it - the ductwork that got water in it. I took a few photos, but that'll wait until another day.

The duct cleaning is important, I think: dust builds up in those things, and water got into over a dozen feet of them a week ago yesterday. One of the last things I'd want is mold getting a foothold there and spreading spores through the house. Not healthy.

Good news: the ducts were more airtight than the technician expected them to be.

There are going to be 'next steps' well into next year - but at this point the house is dry, and ready to get flooring replaced.

#1 daughter arrived Friday afternoon, and is here for the weekend - and glad that the fans are out of here. This place was noisy for a while.

The ladies have been sorting through stuff that was taken up from storage and has been getting dried. We'll be discarding some, passing some along to #2 daughter and her husband - and keeping some.

Related posts:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Busted Water Pipe, Day Seven: Flooring, Gas Pipe, and Sparks

I can't work up much enthusiasm for the idea, yet, but it's probably a good thing that a pipe broke in the laundry room last Friday morning. One of the fellows who's been over here, sorting out what needs to be done now that Servicemaster has dried the structure out, noticed that he got sparks around the circuit breaker panel.

That is not a good thing.

When an electrician came to evaluate the sparks, he found that one wire wasn't quite insulated properly. It's hard to tell what happened: years of slight movements might have cracked the insulation, it might have been nicked when the system was installed - or maybe something else.

Good news: It wasn't the water, so we aren't looking at tearing apart the walls and floors and tracing the wires. And, the faulty wire has been replaced.

Like I said, I don't feel all warm and wonderful about that busted pipe and the water damage. But between discovering a dryer vent that could have caught fire, learning about a small-but-dangerous flaw in the wiring, and getting a look at some repairs in the outside walls that can - thank God - wait until next summer: It looks like it's a good thing we had our attention focused on the workings of this house.

Oh, right. One more thing. We discovered that the insulation over our living room needs replacing and that the airspace over the room isn't adequately ventilated. That area wasn't affected by the flooding: but my wife had one of the fellows who was over here looking at needed repairs take a look at that area too.

I'm not surprised about the insulation situation. That area's one that we figured needed attention - but could wait. Now, it's getting attention.

One last thing: Servicemaster took its fans and heavy-duty dehumidifiers out of the house yesterday afternoon. It's really quite, now that they're gone.

Related posts:

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Busted Water Pipe, Day Five: Bathroom's in the Kitchen, and a Mouse Condominium?!

This could have been a lot worse. It still looks like we won't have to replace the drywall. Most of it, anyway. There's part of the laundry room that may need work done on the walls.

You know it's going to be one of those days, when you come downstairs and find part of the bathroom in the kitchen. September 21, 2010.

Floors in the ground floor bathroom, kitchen, and front entry, on the other hand: Those are stripped down to the old country-farmhouse floorboards. We'd use that as the 'new' floor surface: but there was too much damage done over the generations, before we got this place. So, after some repairs and yet more drying out, we'll be getting those floors resurfaced.

The Servicemaster crew has done this before: That's an impressive tool kit. September 21, 2010.

The fans and dehumidifiers are on again. They were off while the Servicemaster crew was here: good thing, too, since they kick up quite a breeze. I was right, by the way: the house did seem awfully quiet. Apart from the hammering, drilling, and tearing up of flooring, of course.

Good news: We're getting new flooring in three rooms. Bad news: We need new flooring in three rooms. September 21, 2010.

My wife saw those holes in the cabinet base and said to the fellow, in a pleased tone: "You're making mouse condominiums!" September 21, 2010.

If those holes do their job of ventilation, we may be able to keep the existing cabinets. Which is to be hoped for: the things are nailed to the walls, not screwed in place.

As for 'mouse condominiums,' the first thing I thought of when I saw those holes was something like 'pre-drilled mouse access?' It would make a good story, maybe.

Related posts:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hammers, Fans, Dehumidifiers, and Maybe Some Good News

A crew - two men - from Servicemaster came today. I understand that they usually have more people on a job like this, but St. Cloud Servicemaster's territory extends up to the Canadian border - and apparently there's a rather major job that needs attention in a hospital up in International Falls. It's probably connected with this news item:
"Hospital in full diversionary status after waterline break"
Laurel Beager, International Falls Journal (September 20, 2010)

"ER, clinic campus remain in operation

"A major waterline break Sunday evening at the hospital campus of the Rainy Lake Medical Center has caused the hospital to divert its inpatients to other facilities, according to CEO Brian Long.

"Long reported this morning that the water line break that occurred at 7 p.m. Sunday caused the concrete floor in the basement to lift and the lower level to flood with about 7 inches of water...."
Under the circumstances, I'm glad that Servicemaster, St. Cloud, sent anybody to a residence in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

The crew did a good job, too, stripping floor coverings from the ground-floor rooms. They also made quite a lot of noise, between hammers and other tools.

We got some tentatively-good news. We may not need to replace the drywall.

Once again, I'm really glad I was up at a crazy-late hour Friday morning, and (eventually) noticed the running water. This could have been a lot worse.

Actually, it may be just as well that we had to pull the washer and dryer out and inspect all the hoses and ducts. There was quite a lot of lint in the dryer's vent. Note to self: inspect that system more often. Lint makes good kindling - and that's not something you want near something hot, like parts of a dryer.

Bear in mind: After Friday and the weekend, I'm just a bit jumpy.

This house is going to seem very quiet, once those fans and dehumidifiers are out of here.

Related posts:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wet Albums, Loud Fans, and Grilled Burgers

I spend about two hours this afternoon, cutting foam plastic squares in half, taking the records (vinyl albums) out of their jackets and inserting a half-square of the plastic, to keep the two sides apart.

I wasn't able to get the job done with all of them: but did process the lot that had been put in the garage, instead of being set up in the basement where Servicemaster's fans and dehumidifier are. The jackets were not damp: They were wet. I rather hope that I got to them in time - and that we can hang on to the drying system long enough to keep the collection from molding.

Other than that, it's been a fairly normal day: high-volume fans and a humidifier pumping water out of the air - and so, indirectly, out of the walls and floor on the first floor and basement; grilling burgers - actually, #1 daughter did that today (thanks!). I was talking with a fellow from Servicemaster when it was time to fix lunch.

I'm not complaining: but those fans are rather loud. I like the sound, actually: but it makes a certain amount of concentration necessary when I want to talk with someone.

Related posts:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Not So Much Water on the Floors

Servicemaster (St. Cloud) got a crew out here long before sunrise. They got things carried to the garage and set up fans and dehumidifiers - big ones - that are pulling what water they couldn't get out of the air, and so indirectly out of the wood and dry wall.

The company will have someone else come - in a day or two, as I recall - to see whether we get to put new dry wall into the laundry room. I could do without that, but I could also do without mold and other problems that can come from neglecting maintenance.

My wife relieved me at about 7:30, I got maybe four hours sleep, and I'll shortly be heading for St. Cloud for some testing.

After that, I don't think I'll have trouble sleeping tonight.

Related post:

Busted Water Pipe, Standing Water on Two Floors

I could have realized that the washer wasn't running normally, when I didn't hear the water in the laundry room turn off after a few minutes. But I was intent on finishing a post in another blog.

Good news: My wife can - and did - crawl in to the main water valve for the house and there isn't any more coming in; Hoffman Plumbing (Sauk Centre) is here now, and found what was wrong (a rubber hose we'll know to replace at intervals - now); Service Master, St. Cloud, will be out here - when they're able to get a crew together.

Bad news: I don't know how much damage's been done yet. And we're a dry house until further notice.

Well, it could be worse. A lot worse.

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Quiet Evening, Aside From a Tornado Watch

This is going to be a much less routine night than I expected. There's a tornado watch out for this area.

You can see why:

(From, Minnesota, used w/o permission)

I'm not surprised. It's been hot, humid, and windy all day - 'thunderstorm weather.'

Here's about as much as I know about the watch, so far:
"Statement as of 9:40 PM CDT on August 30, 2010

"Tornado Watch 636 remains in effect until 200 am CDT for the following locations

". Minnesota counties included are

"Chippewa Douglas Kandiyohi
Lac Qui Parle Pope Redwood
Renville Stearns Stevens
swift Todd Yellow Medicine
I'll be keeping an eye on this set of storms, obviously. At the rate they're going, I figure it'll be a half-hour, maybe an hour, before the excitement starts here.

If I seem overly-calm about this: I'm pretty confident in the storm-spotters who get deployed outside town in this sort of situation, the warning sirens have been inspected and serviced recently, and - like I said - I'll be staying up to keep an eye and ear out.

There's a view of a Sauk Centre neighborhood on this webcam: Small Town America: Minnesota .

Saturday, August 28, 2010

More Company!

So, after supper, #2 daughter, my son-in-law, and their dog come in. They were "in the neighborhood," in Pelican Rapids, and decided to drop in. That's very roughly 75 miles from here - which, by North Dakota standards, is sort of "in the neighborhood."

They've been to Hawaii - a long-overdue honeymoon, in my opinion - and had tales to tell and pictures to show.

I'm glad they came: but now I really need to get to work.

Not Much Done, and All Day Doing It

#1 daughter and a friend of hers came visiting a little before noon today: an expected event. We talked, I grilled burgers while they observed Giol, her pet rabbit, and eventually they went over to see my father-in-law, his clocks & violins.

I went up to the attic, got some reading done and made a few notes before they were back - and we talked some more. Later, after the evening meal, her friend and I talked about Jung; Freud; philology, linguistics and the history of the English language; and Road Runner cartoons - in that order, in the space of about a half-hour.

Which, for me, is about par for the course. Him, too, I understand.

They're off again: and it's time for me to start thinking about getting down to the task of setting up tomorrow morning's posts. Or deciding to give them a miss until Monday.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Once in a While, I do Something Right

My wife, #3 daughter, and son were in St. Cloud this morning, to see a doctor: a routine follow-up on surgery.

I was a bit distracted when they returned, and didn't ask #3 daughter how she was feeling. This evening, when she was in the kitchen, I remembered - and asked.

Later, my wife told me that #3 daughter had observed 'you know, Dad can be nice sometimes.' Awww. That's the sort of thing that makes this 'parenting' thing feel worthwhile.

More Excitement This Summer

Mhr>Updated 8:17 p.m., August 12, 2010

"Statement as of 8:14 PM CDT on August 12, 2010

"The National Weather Service in the Twin Cities has issued a

"* Tornado Warning for---
eastern Stearns County in central Minnesota---
northwestern Sherburne County in central Minnesota---
Benton County in central Minnesota---

"* until 900 PM CDT

"* at 809 PM CDT... radar indicated a storm capable of producing a tornado. The most dangerous part of the storm was near Waite Park--- or over Waite Park--- and moving northeast at 30 mph."
(Sauk Centre, Minnesota,
That's almost an hour's drive east by southeast of here. I've got in-laws, nieces & nephews living near there.

I'll say this for Minnesota climate: It's not boring.
Updated 7:42 p.m., August 12, 2010

Thunder has merged into a continuous rumble to the west, with occasional crescendos.

Radar, about 7:32 p.m. CDT, August 12, 2010.
There's a tornado watch up for my part of Minnesota, effective until 10:00 tonight.

As passed the message along:
"...At 655 PM CDT--- National Weather Service radar indicated a line of severe thunderstorms capable of producing damaging winds in excess of 60 mph. These storms were located along a line extending from Willmar to Lakeside to Gibbon--- moving northeast at 55 mph...."
(Sauk Centre, Minnesota,
Based on what I've seen on radar, a really heavy part of this storm should reach Sauk Centre in about a half hour.

I've lived either here in Sauk Center or in the Red River Valley of the North for the bulk of my life - and we've got a lot more information to work with now, than back in the "good old days."

I took a few photos, to show what I mean:

That's where I work - and, now, monitor the storm. About 6:40 p.m., August 12, 2010.

Even without the watch and warning, I'd have figured that something was going on. Those clouds promise - interesting - weather. About 6:41 p.m., August 12, 2010.

Radar, with the bow-shaped line that's typical of strong storms. The system is headed northeast. About 6:44 p.m., August 12, 2010.

I'm posting this, and then getting back to keeping one eye on the storm, and the other on the writing I'd normally be doing this evening.

Related post:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tree Removal: We've Had Enough Excitement This Summer

I'm in full agreement with my wife: we have had enough excitement this summer.

There's been good kinds of excitement: like getting the patio in back that she's wanted since we bought the house.

Then, there's the storm we on Tuesday, July 27. (July 27, 2010) I'm not complaining: it could have been a whole lot worse.

On the other hand, the majority of an old willow in our back yard ended up - on our back yard. That much dead wood won't just go away, so my wife found an outfit, Hoffman Tree Service & Stump Removal, who could cut the willow into bite-sized chunks and haul it away.

Haul most of it away, that it. She saved a sound piece of the willow for her father, L. N. Kaas. He uses willow wood for some violin repairs.

Here's how the tree removal went, on Monday:

That was a big tree. Still was, even with most of it down. August 2, 2010.

Enter the Bobcat. Those are great things for this sort of job. August 2, 2010.

The Bobcat, again, with substantial hunk of willow in it's 'jaws.' August 2, 2010.

And again. They'd hauled one truckload out and come back for more by now. August 2, 2010.

We're hoping the willow will grow back: which is why they left so much of the stump. August 2, 2010.

And this is why, at about 3:00 p.m., I stopped being able to work online. That cable had been set over a root, probably just under the surface. August 2, 2010.

That had been seeded earlier this summer, after work on the patio. Oh, well: we didn't know a storm would knock down most of the willow. August 2, 2010.

It was a hot, humid Monday, and I had work to get done. Right around 3:00 that afternoon, I lost my Internet connection. Hoffman was still in the back yard, getting the last of the old willow removed. There's a connection with what they were doing, but it wasn't obvious at the time.

All I knew was that I couldn't get online, my webcam couldn't get a signal out, and our telephone was dead. Also the television. We get phone, cable and Internet through the same cable, and it didn't take a highly-trained technician to tell that something was wrong with our connection.

I needed to call our service provider: which is quite a trick, with no phone. I hadn't been over to L. N. Kaas's place, my father-in-law, since he started fixing violins: and this was a fine excuse to go over.

I took a picture of a two violins he's got on display in his shop, talked, and went back home. (Photo of the violins is in another blog)

By then, Hoffman and my wife had discovered what had happened. The coaxial cable leading to our house had bee "buried," but nowhere near deep enough.

The thing had snapped when Hoffman's Bobcat skid loader ran over it

I'm not faulting them. They didn't know that that cable was hidden, presumably just under the sod, because we didn't know. The guys who put the cable in, earlier this summer, had apparently encountered a root just under the surface: and placed the cable over the obstruction, instead of cutting through it.
I'm told that, legally, they're not obliged to do more than make sure that the homeowner can't see the cable. "Under the sod" is how it was put. I'd have appreciated knowing how it was - but we live and learn.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Storm, an Old Willow, and a Squirrel

A strong thunderstorm went over Sauk Centre - and quite a few other parts of central Minnesota - this evening.

Right now, about ten minutes before 10:00 p.m. CDT, the line of storms that our bit of excitement was part of seems to be mostly in southern Minnesota and Wisconsin: and still going strong.

It looks like our part of the world fared pretty well. The St. Cloud Times' headline is a good summary: "Heavy storm leaves mostly minor damage in Central Minnesota." (Mark Sommerhauser, TaLeiza Calloway, St. Cloud Times (July 27, 2010)) According to the article we had around 60 mile an hour wind gusts. Over in Morrison County, ligntning blew a smallish hole in the side of one family's home, and damaged another family's phone box. The folks with the perforated house were in the basement at time time, and weren't hurt.

When we looked out the east door, after the storm had moved on, we had a much better view of the sky than we'd had before. The top and north side of the old willow tree in our back yard wasn't there.

The old willow looked a lot shorter than it was before the storm. About 5:56 p.m. July 27, 2010.

At that point, I thought it would be a matter of getting someone to cut the fallen branches to workable lengths and haul them off: then wait for the tree to grow to its full height again. That willow has weathered a great many storms.

Walking round to the other side of the tree, though: I'm not so sure it'll come back this time. Or that it's a good idea to let it re-grow the upper works.

I'm really glad this wasn't close to anything other than the shed. About 5:59 p.m. July 27, 2010.

Most of the old willow is on the ground now. About 5:59 p.m. July 27, 2010.

A few minutes after six, I noticed a squirrel on the stub of a branch, on the one remaining top trunk of the tree. It had stepped out, a bit like a homeowner coming out on the front stoop to look around after a storm. Which it probably was doing: Quite a few squirrels lived in that old willow. After looking around, the squirrel sat up and started rather vigorously grooming its tail.

Later in the evening, I heard an unfamiliar bird squawking. My guess is that it's another dispossessed critter from the tree.

Still later, we got this sunset:

Sunset. July 27, 2010.

Meanwhile, I've made about 150 tickets for the Knights of Columbus bingo workers. We're getting ready to be at the 'bingo booth' at the Stearns County Fair again this year.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sinclair Lewis Days Parade Rained Out

No Sinclair Lewis Days parade this year, for obvious reasons:

(from, used w/o permission)

There's a tornado watch in effect until 8:00 p.m. CDT, but it doesn't look like we'll get another severe storm.

By about 7:10, when I did a screen grab of that radar image, the folks who had set out chairs (and, in the case of one household, two sofas) to watch the parade had packed their things and moved on.

It's disappointing: but at least I haven't heard of any damage, or anybody being hurt by today's storms.

Related posts:

Another Storm Coming

Here we go again?

(from, used w/o permission)

Related post:

Tornado Sirens, Hail, and a Parade Coming This Evening

It's been years since the sirens went off to warn of a possible tornado, here in Sauk Centre. Now, we've gone to the basement twice in one week.

Clouds, looking northwest from the corner of South Ash and Ninth in Sauk Centre. July 17, 2010, about 1:20 p.m.

Look closely: those cars have their lights on. July 17, 2010, about 2:12 p.m.

The wind had picked up. Right after taking this picture, I decided to go inside. July 17, 2010, about 2:19 p.m.

Then, around 2:26 p.m., I heard the sirens and the family and I went to the basement.

Most of the hailstones were around the size of pea gravel. This was the largest I saw. July 17, 2010.

It's not as large as it looked from the top: this hailstone was rather flat. July 17, 2010.

I hope the folks who were in town for Sinclair Lewis Days were able to get in out of the hail. And, that the weather clears up for the Sinclair Lewis Days parade, starting just over three hours from now.

I'm planning to webcast the parade on Small Town America: Minnesota (no sound, but you'll get a good view of the parade).

Related posts:

Another Tornado Warning

Another tornado warning's out for this area - the strongly rotating storm seems to be going past Sauk Centre.

More at Tornado Warning | Statement as of 1:58 PM CDT on July 17, 2010,

Towns affected include
  • Long Prairie
  • Little Sauk
  • Grey Ealge
  • North Shore
  • Burtrum
Mostly north and east of here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Tornado Warning, a Hard Drive, Frustration, and a Hummingbird

Sometime after 2:00 this afternoon I saw gray sky out the living room window. Stepping closer, I saw a spectacular thunderhead growing.

I put more photos in today's post of the Sauk Centre Journal Blog.

We heard that a tornado had been sighted east of Glenwood - maybe 20 miles east of us.

Then, right around 3:00 p.m., the sirens went off and my wife, kids (the two at home) and I walked to the basement. No real rush - but we didn't dawdle, either.

Eventually the sirens stopped, we went up stairs, and watched a whole lot of rain come down.

We didn't even get hail. Not that I noticed, anyway.

Can't say I'm disappointed.

Other than that, I've been having a frustrating time finding stuff to clear off my hard drive. It feels a little like bailing out a cruise ship with a five-gallon bucket: lots of work, and not much to show for it. Objectively, I know that I cleared a little over a gigabyte of memory. Oh, well.

I remember when a 30-megabyte hard drive was huge. Actually, I remember when hard drives of any size were cutting-edge technology.

Hummingbirds have definitely discovered the feeder. Just before I started writing this post one came - fueling up for the night, I suspect.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I'm Not a 40-Year-Old Kid Anymore

Around midnight last night, our phone service went out. So did our Internet connection. Around 1:30 a.m. I decided that getting sleep was more important than waiting out the service interruption. ("No Phone, No Web, No Internet: Not a Single Webcam Live" (Small Town America: Minnesota (June 29, 2010))

I slept until almost noon.

Which brings up an interesting point: I've noticed lately that I don't bounce back from late hours and other stressors quite as fast as I used to. Maybe it's time for me to admit that I'm not a 40-year-old kid any more.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Disgustingly Perfect Day, a Grill, and Hummingbirds

I checked. It really is "room temperature" outside: 69° Fahrenheit.

There's enough of a breeze to discourage mosquitoes but not bother people, the sky is clear, bright blue - it gets a little better around here, but not by much, and not often.

My wife and #3 daughter are off, doing errands. I'm here, by the now-superfluous air conditioner, getting the day's work done.

Right next to the window where, if I lean back, I can see the birdbath and hummingbird feeder. (So can you: I've got a webcam looking out the window.)

Speaking of hummingbirds: I took the feeder in yesterday afternoon, for routine cleaning and refilling. While I was doing that, I looked across the kitchen and north room, and saw a hummingbird flit in from the east, turn back maybe a foot from where the feeder usually is, head eastwards maybe two feet, go through a horizontal loop, and flit back the way he/she came.

That motivated me to get the feeder read and in place in what may have been record time. Those hummers don't, I've read, work with a really big safety margin when it comes to food/fuel supply.

The critter, or one very much like it, was back within an hour. I think I've got regular clients now.

I ran out of propane/LP gas on the grill Saturday, just in time to get the burgers done. At least, I thought I was out of gas.

I was going to refill the tank Saturday afternoon - but took an all-afternoon nap instead. My body probably had the right idea about that, although I couldn't get to sleep that night until an insanely late hour.

Where was I? LP gas, right. Sunday, after Mass, I went to the Holiday station on the south side, to pick up a full LP gas cylinder. I found out, in the process, that at least one person in town knows the thing as "propane," but not as "LP gas" tanks. Interesting: I learned something new about the language.

So, I swap out the tanks, and find out that the grill still won't light. No grilled burgers on Sunday. And, as a bonus, I get to figure out how to dismantle and clean the grill. My hope is that there's a fairly straightforward job of unplugging a gas line ahead of me.

#1 daughter was here for the weekend, visiting her pet rabbit and us.

And I think that brings me more-or-less up to date. The day's tasks won't do themselves, so I'd better get to work.

Maybe there'll be time later, for a walk. Or something to get me outside.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mostly Medical

Last week I had blood tests done - and got the results yesterday.

"It could be worse" is a pretty good summary. I wasn't surprised that the blood sugar levels were high - how high they were was a bit of an eyebrow-raiser.

Happily, that and the cholesterol levels can, in principle, be affected by my paying better attention to what I eat, moving around more, and thereby losing weight.

The bad news is that I'm now on yet another prescription - not a particularly inexpensive one, either.

Well, that's motivation.

Like I said, "it could be worse."

Now, it's time for me to sweat for about a half-hour.

Monday, June 14, 2010

About a Trip, Age, and Burying the Cable

My wife and me, and #3 daughter, returned from a good visit with #2 daughter and her husband over the weekend. Also #1 daughter and our son. The latter is staying there for a month. They'll get some work out of him, and he will, I expect, have a good time. A win-win situation.

I'm definitely no longer 20 years old. Four decades back, a 170-mile trek on the Interstate didn't leave me feeling like this. It would have helped, I think, if I'd had the good sense to stretch my neck and shoulders on the trip - which I'll try to remember next time. The base joints of my right hand's first two fingers don't ache as much now, as they did when I woke up: for which I'm grateful.

This evening/afternoon, around 5:00, a couple guys came and buried our cable/telephone/Internet connection: bringing the deck/patio project to a conclusion. One of them was camera-shy, so I won't have a photo of that - but I do have pictures of the rest.

Which I really ought to get around to processing for this blog.

My wife & #3 daughter are playing Mario Kart in the next room: and I'm trying to get caught up with today's work. Which I should get back to, now.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

That was a Nice Day

I woke up this morning: always a good thing, considering the alternative.

Aside from a brief struggle with some financial data - no crisis, just trying to get the right numbers in the right places - I had a productive day.

Then, after walking down to Coborn's pharmacy to pick up a prescription, I spent a few minutes out on the new patio/deck/thing, to read a book with my wife. Actually, she was reading one book and I was reading another. But we were doing it together.

Which brings up another point: we now, after about 20 years of planning & waiting, have a new deck out back. It's only fair to warn you: I've got photos.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I Almost Don't Have a Cold: Just in Time for Memorial Day Weekend

Tomorrow, for many Americans, is the practical start of Memorial Day weekend. If we've got the seniority, we're likely to take the afternoon off: and get a head start on the first marathon trip of the summer.

Or maybe not. That's the way it was, a few decades back: but times change.

I'm staying put: although I do plan to get out of the house at least once over the weekend.

If all goes well, our gas meter will get moved tomorrow. A dumpster arrived today. What that's for, I don't know: but it's probably connected with the gas meter move. I could ask my wife.

My son and I talked about water and oxygen on (and in) Jupiter's moon, Europa: and then read Garfield.

Me, #3 daughter, and my wife went to Soo Bahk Do class tonight. I plan to get involved in that - but have several years' worth of enforced inactivity to undo first. Or maybe I'm just procrastinating.

I spent quite a bit of today, re-organizing my Easy Griller website. The navigation is (or should be) a trifle less difficult now. At the rate I'm going, I'll have the last part of that makeover done in 24 hours - on time for my 'Memorial Day weekend' deadline. Next step: reviewing & rewriting - and adding photos and other graphics as needed.

That's it for today: Goodnight and may God bless.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Having a Cold isn't Fun

The family here has had a cold for - it feels like forever, but my wife tells me it's no more than a couple weeks. She's usually right about that sort of thing.

I've been coughing and sneezing a bit less this week: which is fine by me.

Other than that, a few things have changed.

I got the hummingbird feeder out - and had a few hummers drink it dry after the first day. So far, after refilling it: I've seen none. Wait a minute: One just zipped in - and out again.

My wife and #3 daughter got the window air conditioner set up - another sign that summer is here. Or coming.

We made some calls with the gas utility: apparently they're still recovering from that alternatively-competent supervisor. We'd been told that the meter would be moved in about two weeks. When a month had passed, I decided to see what happened.

We're expecting a crew to come out and reposition the meter this Friday. There's a white line marked in the grass, with a flag and everything. I hope they show up. The state-mandated markings they made, earlier this year, are disappearing as the grass grows.

#1 daughter decided she'd be better off, relaxing at her own place. She's got the same bug we do - and I think she made the right decision. There's a lot to be said for being where you can utterly relax. We got a call from her, a few minutes ago. She wanted advice from "Dr. Mom."

Which brings me up to date, more or less.

Monday, May 17, 2010

For Once, I Feel Great About Monday

I had some sort of bug - or maybe problems with allergies - or something - last week. Whatever was going on, it seems to be pretty much over. For which I'm duly grateful.

To celebrate, sort of, I 'bicycled' for three minutes short of an hour this morning, using the family's Wii Fit2 software. That was fun - and reasonably good exercise.

My son-in-law called: His company's documentary is moving along, and we've got the script to read and nit-pick. That would be #3 daughter and me. We've both got writing experience - and at this stage it's a good idea to get feedback and (maybe) identify rough spots that need smoothing.

He's also put in a big weekend in the yard. The chicken coop is up - apart from the final roof. #2 daughter picked her husband up with the tractor's scoop, and lifted him about a dozen feet up, to get some trees trimmed. I wish I'd seen that.

Here in Sauk Centre, we've now finished replacing most of the plumbing fixtures. That's a long-overdue project I'm glad to see done. #1 daughter tells me that colors of the old bathtub with its tile, and the toilet don't work with the cheery new green paint on the walls. She's probably right - she's now graduated from the commercial art program at Alex Tech.

Which reminds me: #1 daughter graduated Friday.

I'll get back to that, another time. Right now, there's nearly a week's worth of backlog to take care of.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Not-Quite-Mother's-Day Get-Together

Mother's Day is tomorrow and the family got together at one of my in-laws' place, as we do around this time each year. There are other get-together times, too, for my wife's immediate family: linked to Christmas and Easter. Right - and a family reunion that's coming up. That's another - and larger - set of kinfolk. We rent a park in Osakis, down the road, for that event.

#2 daughter and my son-in-law are settling into their new home. He's from Louisiana: never dreamed of moving to North Dakota (few people do); and has fallen in love with the family place, up in the Red River Valley of the north.

And bought a little garden tractor.

My son-in-law with this new (to him) tractor. April 27, 2010.

Remember, they're living in the Red River Valley of the North. As I recall, that's a smallish utility tractor: big enough for yard and garden chores, but not what you'd prefer for working the fields.

Lilacs starting to bloom. May 6, 2010.

Despite a little snow yesterday, and today, and a freeze warning in tomorrow morning's forecast, I'm pretty sure summer is coming. That 'freeze warning' applies to sensitive plants - I'm hoping the lilacs and cherry tree will be okay.

While I'm writing about weather: I found this on the Wunderground site:
"Statement as of 3:35 PM CDT on May 08, 2010

"... Snowfall amounts ending Saturday morning may 8 2010 from parts of central and east central Minnesota and west central Wisconsin...

"The totals below are separated into snow... and ice and sleet
categories... then by amount... and are not necessarily the
final amount for each location.

"Snow reports listed by amount

"inches location St County [!] time
------ ----------------------- -- -------------- -------
2.50 3 W Ladysmith WI Rusk 0500 am
2.00 1 E Cumberland WI Barron 0800 am
2.00 Centuria WI Polk 1233 am | one to two inches estimated on grassy surfaces only.
1.30 4 N Warman MN Kanabec 0700 am
0.80 Mora MN Kanabec 0800 am
0.70 Long Prairie MN Todd 0700 am
0.50 Milaca MN Mille Lacs 0700 am
0.30 Stanley WI Chippewa 0800 am
0.20 Clayton WI Polk 0230 am
0.10 1 SW Chisago City MN Chisago 0800 am
0.10 3 WNW Rice MN Stearns 0700 am
0.10 5 NE Forest Lake MN Chisago 0700 am
Minnesota weather/climate is not boring.

My son on the trampoline, earlier today. May 8, 2010.

My brother-in-law does a good job of setting up the back yard for the kids.

My son on the zipline. This run went smoothly. May 8, 2010.

Take that zipline, for example: it ran a couple dozen yards, at least, from a platform in a tree off to the left, to somewhere off the right side of that photo. Some of the kids had a great time with it. My son tried it again, later, got just off the platform - and the thing stopped. He hung on for a while before dropping - quite a ways.

Got the wind knocked out of him, but he'll be okay. His biggest regret is that he didn't have his camera set, so that he could have gotten a video of it.

Quite a lot has happened since I was his age: a camera I can wrap my hand around takes video that's roughly as good as news broadcast video was then - and is inexpensive enough for a 14-year-old to buy with money he's earned.

Miscellaneous young family members on the trampoline. It broke in three places, a little later. May 8, 2010.

This photo was taken before the zipline incident. Even if I didn't remember that, I'd know, since my son's arms don't have the alluvial deposits they picked up later. He's having fun with some of his cousins.

Three generations. The older two inside, talking: the latest set outside. May 8, 2010.

Me? I stayed inside with the rest of the old guard. This is the first of these get-togethers I've gotten to in - years - and it's good to be back.

The Volkswagen bug is behind the green truck, and there's a minivan parked up the road. May 8, 2010.

That's a sort of 'as the sun slowly sinks' photo: I thought it'd be fun to show (most of) the vehicles we used to get there.

I see that the sun actually is sinking in the west. And I've got more tasks to get done.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Another Dim Spring Day

Make no mistake: We can use the rain here in Minnesota.

But the dull overcast, and wondering if I should turn on a light, here by a window, is - dreary, I suppose.

We had fog last night - and it seems to have moved into my head. I've got 'creative' tasks to get done, and no clue what to do about them.

Time for some concentration, and maybe coffee.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

(Intentionally) Broken Jaws and a Tractor

My wife, our son and #3 daughter went to St. Cloud this morning. The two kids are going to have their jaws broken - and put back together in a better configuration.

I think that, on the whole, it's a good idea. But they're not exactly looking forward to it. I'd be a little concerned if they were. What's going to be done isn't cosmetic, by the way: their jaws don't line up all that well, and the series of medical procedures is intended to make things more functional.

This afternoon, I got a call from my son-in-law. He's got a new tractor - and sent three photos of it, via email. Well, two of him and the tractor: another of my daughter and a trailer. Those two are definitely settling in.

Monday, April 26, 2010

So That's What My Chin Looks Like! - the Photo

Friday, I wrote that I'd tried something new for trimming my beard.

Boy, was it effective!

I took that photo of myself yesterday, testing out a setup for making at-the-computer videos. Which is another topic.

The downstairs bathroom is now missing a sink and most of the wallpaper (wallpaper? in a bathroom??) - and looks a bit like a construction site.

Which, in a way, it is. My wife and #3 daughter have been prepping the room for new fixtures that will be coming soon - I hope.

Meanwhile, my wife's another step closer to having that patio she's wanted for - over twenty years now. She had a chat with the 'call us before you dig' folks in Minnesota. I trust that'll go smoothly.

Last week (week before last??), someone from the regional gas company came by. He, and about ten other fellows, were working this part of the state. It seems that a supervisor had been leaving work orders on his desk, instead of processing them. He's been dismissed, I understand. I feel a little sympathetic, job market being what it is: but you just don't do that.

This is, in a way, good news. We've had good experiences with the company for years: until this one project.

That work order was to find out what would be needed, to deal with the patio we're planning. I suspect that our contractor lit a fire under someone at the gas company - we weren't the only ones whose projects were waiting for a routine task.

Anyway, the technician explained why it'd taken months instead of days to get around to our job - and showed me where the gas meter will go, when the patio goes in. We're responsible for seeing to it that a pipe is run there.

Like I said: good news. The bricks, sand - everything has been sitting on the contractor's lot, waiting for that 'we need to put the gas meter here' task to get done.

Now we've got all the paperwork in place, I hope. I'll admit to being a bit excited about this patio project.

Friday, April 23, 2010

So That's What My Chin Looks Like!

Yesterday I said I was going to trim my beard, tomorrow. Today is yesterday's tomorrow, and I trimmed it.

I got smart, and used the same trimmer my wife uses on me: a sort of electric razor with a set of (brushes?) that hold the cutting surfaces a (fairly) fixed distance from the skin.

I think she used the 1/8th inch brush yesterday. I asked her, by the way, and learned that she didn't remember which one she used: she just 'grabs one' and starts cutting.

That might explain a few things.

For the beard trimming, I chose the 1/4" 'brush,' to more-or-less match the rest of my hair. That's a lot closer than I can get it, using my fingers and a scissor.

Anyway, I finished trimming the beard, and had an impressive pile of white, gray and brownish-black hair in the kitchen sink. The bathroom sink isn't available: but that's another story.

Then my wife comes around the corner, takes one look at me, and starts laughing.


She's never seen me with a beard this short. Neither have I, for maybe a third of a century.

Now, several hours later, my wife, our son, and #3 and #1 daughters agree: I look - different.

They're right, you know.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Rabbit, a Haircut, Soo Bahk Do, and Phone Calls

It's been a a good day. My wife gave me a haircut this afternoon: no more 'ancient wizard' look for me. I haven't measured, but my hair's maybe a quarter-inch long now. Probably less. Tomorrow, I trim the beard to match.

There's plenty of time for it to get long and curly for the 'Santa Claus' look next Christmas.

I ate an apple today - not entirely so that I could give the core to Giol, #1 daughter's pet rabbit. But that was a factor. This time Giol hopped a couple feet away from me before starting to eat the apple core. He does that, sometimes: more often when I make it a little harder to get the thing. I think he may be protecting 'his' treat.

My wife and #3 daughter went to Soo Bahk Do class this evening. They're preparing for a test. My son stayed home this time. The rationale was that he wasn't going to be taking the test - and prep for the test was all that'd be happening in class.

I didn't get out for a walk today - but I did go through some of the Wii Fit routines. I'm rather serious about undoing the effects several years (decades) of comparative immobility.

And, I'm catching up, more or less, from the break I took to write about lint. Earth Day and all that, you know.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oh, Wow! Earth Day #40: I was There in the Beginning

I've spent a great deal of time this week, getting ready for the 40th Earth Day.

I remember the first one. And I remember the wonderful swell of emotion I experienced, seeing that big theta fluttering over the campus.

Other people saw it, too, by the way: it was on a flag that looked sort of like the American flag. As I'll say in another blog, a Wikipedia article asserts that the 'ecology flag' came after 1970. The person who wrote that could be right.

Like so many other memories of that groovy period, mine aren't entirely precise. I wasn't part of the drug scene: and I'm very glad that I came out of the sixties and early seventies with pretty much the same neural equipment I had coming in.

No great virtue on my part: I didn't see how stirring your brain with a chemical egg whisk would improve its performance; and with a brain wired like mine, all I needed to take a trip was ease up on the brakes. Which is another topic. (Drifting at the Edge of Time and Space (March 7, 2010)

So, I've been indulging in a walk down memory lane, with nostalgic Pilot shades over my mind's eyes.

I've also been doing my small part to raise the level America's awareness of lint:

Monday, April 12, 2010

This Monday was More So Than Most

I woke up today - which is good news, considering the alternative. It was about 7:00 a.m., which is also pretty good. Not early, but okay.

I thought, 'I might as well relax for another few minutes.'

Four hours later, my wife called me to lunch.

That extra sleep was probably a good idea. I'm running a slight fever - but may be getting rid of a nascent cold. Or something.

On the other hand, now there's catchup to do on my catchup.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Bulletin and Clerical Errors: Two of Them

It could have been worse.

Somebody at the Post Office called me this morning: either my numbers were 'way off, or we were missing over 50 bulletins.

Not good news. Particularly since there would have been no way to know which 50 were missing.

I was pretty intense (sorry about that!) with my wife and daughter, who had dropped the mailing off at the Post Office. At the time, what I thought I was doing was making it very clear what might have happened - and that this was non-trivial. That's not, I think, quite how it came across.

They came home, with news that they hadn't seen bulletins on the ground/streets/sidewalks around the Post Office. Which I believed. Even with today's wind, that many would be hard to miss.

So, at the Post Office I discovered that I'd made a sort of double clerical error in one of the forms. Not my best work. I'll be reviewing my procedure, next month - and paying particular attention to some of the details.

Knights of Columbus members should be getting their bulletins in tomorrow's mail, unless they live well away from Sauk Centre.

Blue Sky, Comfortable Chair, Routines and Schedules

Friday morning. Blue sky. Almost 50 degrees out. (Fahrenheit, of course.) My wife and #3 daughter are off for their Friday morning routine. My son seems to be sleeping in - not a bad idea, actually, since he's got what sounds like a cold.

I've gotten the postal paperwork done for the Knights of Columbus council bulletin I edit: The ladies will drop the mailing off at the Post Office in the next hour or so.

Me? I'm sitting in that hand-me-down chair and - I see I'm scheduled to be spontaneous and creative now. I'd better get to work on that.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hand-Me-Down Chair: From My Daughter

Now I remember: #3 daughter bought a (used) office chair for her work station. It's a classy number, and looks very comfortable to boot.

When I came downstairs, I found her old(er) chair at my desk - it's a huge improvement over the instrument of torture I'd been dealing with. And has much better wheels.

I pushed off today, expecting to move a few inches as I usually have, and was getting my feet in position for another shove, when I realized that I was about two feet from the desk and still rolling. Nice! It'll take a little getting used to, though.

That's it. I'm turning in for the day.

Prayer, Hair, and a Rabbit

My son gave me the 'chaplet' (a crucifix and knotted cord of the sort we pray chaplets on, actually) - looks like I'm the one he's been praying for during this Lent. Well, I can use all the help I can get. I'm wearing it now: swapped out the one I've been wearing and using through Lent.

And, I've already used the 'new' one: Someone on Twitter suggested: "Please pause whatever you are doing and pray for your family and country." It took me the usual six minutes to run through the particular chaplet I've been doing: but who's counting?

My wife got a haircut this afternoon: a sort of rite of spring. Also a practical matter of staying comparatively cool during summer. A - tech school grad, I think - did the work, and a fine job it was.

Giol, #1 daughter's rabbit, is doing fine. He doesn't say much, but he's been using the pet taxi and rabbit run my wife set up for him with evidence of satisfaction with the arrangement.

Apart from that? I'm probably forgetting something: But so far, that's what I've pulled out of memory.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday 2010

Happy Easter!

My son and son-in-law have spent much (most?) of the day playing/working with Lego Mindstorm - and having a great time. They showed me video they're going to edit and put on YouTube.

It's been a beautiful Easter Sunday. I grilled burgers, relaxed and spent some time with my family, walked to the grocery and back to get coffee, and did I mention that I relaxed?

Now, I'm taking a break from work: getting things set up for Monday's tasks.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Mouse? A Really Big Mouse?

I got finished with my tasks a bit late yesterday. Fridays are challenging, sometimes, since one of my 'creative' blogs has a post due then. And, as often happens, I had nothing in the net when I trawled my imagination until rather late. So I wrote about ducks.

The rest of the family was quite sensibly in bed by that time and the lights were out on the 1st (ground) floor where my desk is. Except for my task lighting and a light in the kitchen.

It's quiet at night in this neighborhood: except when there's an event at the school. But that's another topic.

Anyway, I heard something. In the living room. A sort of skittering sound. In the dark.

Okay: once, it might have been a pile at one of the kids' workstations sliding into a more stable configuration.

I heard it again. Definitely a skitter. And another sound: something sliding? It didn't last long enough for me to identify.

A mouse. Maybe. They get in, sometimes, in the fall: and we'd had at least one in residence in the early winter. We couldn't catch it. Them? I think they're getting smarter.

I heard it again. Sounded like a mouse. Sort of. A big mouse.

There it was again. A really big mouse.

I was not at all sleepy by then.

Since I wanted to pinpoint its location and at least identify the critter before taking further action, I didn't want to spook it: so I left the light off.

And waited.

After hearing a whole lot of skitters and shuffles, and another possible sliding sound, I had a pretty good bearing on the source of the sound.

Whatever it was, it sounded like it must weight several pounds.

A five-pound mouse??

It wasn't entirely dark: some light comes in from the kitchen. Which wasn't all that reassuring. I might not have seen a mouse, in the direction I was looking, but I'd have expected to see some trace of a critter weighing upwards of two or three pounds - assuming that it was moving around.

Nothing. I saw nothing.

Finally, around 4:00, with skitters not happening quite as frequently as they had at the peak, a few hours previously, I decided that whatever it was, wasn't going anywhere.

And I needed sleep.

Turns out, my wife had decided - correctly, in my view - that since it was so windy out, the rabbit should be let in. She'd moved his enclosure outside yesterday, I'd secured its entry, and Giol had been energetically nibbling grass yesterday afternoon.

So, my wife told our son to tell #1 daughter to go out, put Giol in his carrier, and take him in. Which #1 daughter did: leaving the carrier in the living room and returning to bed.

Without telling me that we now had a pet carrier in the living room, with a rabbit in it.

I hope to get to bed in better time tonight.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

First Robin of the Year

I saw my first robin a few minutes ago, scooting along the yard near the 9th Street curb. That's a nice way to start a day.

"A Nun's Story" - Pretty Good Movie

The family watched "A Nun's Story" (1959) tonight. I hadn't seen it before: and am glad we corrected that oversight.

Other than that, it's been a fairly routine Wednesday: tasks done, Garfield read and all that.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Springtime: I Think It's Here

I might get to bed in reasonable time tonight.

Or, not.

I've had a pretty good day - tired: probably still getting over that daft stunt weekend before last.

My son and I read Garfield and sang, #1 daughter's rabbit Giol danced for an apple core, and I've gotten a few tasks done.

Yeah: It's been a pretty good day.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Monday, Garfield & Routines

I've read Garfield and sung with my son, got some work done - and stayed awake all day.

Another few good nights' sleep, and I may be back to 'normal.' I'm taking steps to see that I don't pull another all-nighter for taxes.

One more set of tasks, and I'm turning in. Goodnight.

A Breakfast of Yogurt, Puffed, Rice, and Instant Coffee

This morning, while making breakfast, I got out a bowl, went to the refrigerator, put in a helping of yogurt, went to a counter and scooped out a measure of puffed rice, went to the microwave, opened a jar and put in a teaspoon of instant coffee.

My first thought was something like 'dumb! You didn't mike it first.'

Then, 'dumb!! It isn't coffee.'

The easiest thing to do would have been to dump the bowl's contents - at least that puffed rice/instant coffee mix on top - and start over. I hate letting food go to waste, though. I'm pretty sure that's something I learned from my parents, who learned it from their families' past and their experiences with the Great Depression.

So I separated as much of the coffee as I could by putting the rice and coffee in a glass, shaking it and lifting most of the rice off the top.

The coffee I put in water that I'd gotten heated by that time. The rice and the rest of the coffee I put back on the yogurt.

It's amazing, how much a little instant coffee will change the appearance and taste of yogurt.

I don't think I'll do that again. Not intentionally.

That wasn't the most auspicious way to start a day, but maybe I've got the "Monday" part of today out of the way now.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Little Four-Hour Nap

Working it out from my slightly-dazed memory, I think I got a total of about four hours sleep the night of March 20, and none at all on the 21st.

It's tax time, and Friday evening I discovered that I had two days to get my reports ready - not the nine I thought I had.

I got the reports done by my deadline - 8:00 a.m. Monday morning - but by the time I did, the sun was about to come up.

I got no work at all done Saturday, apart from that tax stuff: and very little Sunday evening.

So I've been catching up all week. Both on work, and physically.

Under the circumstances, I think I've done pretty well: but it's pretty obvious to me that I'm not 17 any more. Or 40, for that matter. Good grief, I'll be 60 soon.

After lunch today (grilled hamburgers - #1 daughter and her rabbit Giol kept me company while I grilled them), I felt a little tired and decided that I'd lie down on the living room couch. Just for a few minutes.

I woke up at about 4:55 p.m. I'm told that I've snored louder than I did this afternoon - but apparently not by much.

Yesterday we had the Easter get-together at our place. I should have counted heads - I think there were only about a dozen folks here, besides me, my wife, and our still-at-home kids. That's a small gathering for this family - but many of the nieces and nephews are off, mostly on the west coast, starting their own lives now.

That was a good time.

Even better, one of my brothers-in-law called in and set up a video connection. He's in Iraq, as a sort of firefighter. His wife and kids were here with us. Information technology's great: but that's just my opinion. It was good to see him again.

It's getting late, and I've got work to do. And still a lot to catch up on.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Family, Fun, and Faucets

We're having the family over for the 'Easter get-together: only 16 or so folks, besides our still-at-home kids. Some of the younger nieces and nephews are young adults, mostly on the west coast, setting up their own lives.

It's a good time: I mostly sit back and patch into the conversations.

Ah! #3 daughter's Easter egg hunt has begun. The (younger) kids have roped some of the adults in on the action.

One of my sisters-in-law was handling this event until - last year, I think. I'm glad we could pick it up. She gets to relax (comparatively - but that's another story), and I get the fun of watching the show 'while in the comfort of my own home.'

I'd help with preparations, but decades of married life has taught me that sometimes I serve best by staying out of the way.

A nephew got his first vehicle-related ticket today. We hadn't told the family about the new parking regulations here on Ash Street. Sure, it was just a warning: and for a parking violation, at that. But still: that was his first ticket! He was impressed. And, I think, a little pleased.

One of my sons-in-law is in construction, and my father-in-law rebuilt the basement of his house. I don't mean put in a rec room. It's an old house, and the foundations needed work: so he put in bracing, jacked the house up, dug out more basement & worked on the foundation, then lowered the house back in place.

It's quite a family.

That bunch, and some of the younger generation, clustered around a video showing a new-tech flood fence developed in Norway. It's being used in the Fargo flood - and that's yet another story.

#1 daughter told me that it's fun, watching guys who build things study a video like that. She's right: it is. (And yes: I was watching, too.)

My 'construction' son-in-law noticed that we've got water damage around our kitchen faucet. No surprises there. There'd been a discussion of the plumbing going on - and he was more-or-less confirming something we'd expected.

After a couple decades of quick fixes, saving, and duct tape: we're replacing most of the plumbing fixtures in our house. This year. Unless something unexpected happens.

Which could happen. And has. Often.

Whatever else my life has been: it hasn't been boring.

Back to enjoying being with the folks.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What a Crazy Week: And It's Not Over

I've had a really good talk with #3 #2daughter. She and my son-in-law arrived late this evening.

I've also gotten the must-do tasks of the day done.

And now, it's time for me to turn in. (At 2:15 a.m., you'd better believe it!)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sunshine, Blue Sky, and a Paranoid Gas Pump

Sunlight is blasting in through the west window of the room where I work. It'd be blinding, if one of the computer's speakers wasn't partly in the way. I really need to think about putting up some sort of shade for early evening.

Or adjust my schedule.

The shade might be easier.

It's been a perky day: bright blue sky, not much wind; and I've been inside for most of it, working on taxes. Which is another topic. ("Lemming Tracks: Tax Time Surprise," Apathetic Lemming of the North, (March 20, 2010))

I ran out of LP gas while grilling this noon. Which is yet another topic. ("So That's Why It was Hard to Light!," Easy Griller blog (March 20, 2010))

I went out after lunch (the noon meal, in this household). I had some reasons. Excuses, anyway:
  • The grill's LP cylinder needed refilling
    • Or, no grilled burgers tomorrow noon
  • The van's tank was more than half empty
Also, I needed a break. Assembling and organizing information for the annual tax forms is not one of my favorite pastimes. My wife does most of it, actually, and a few years ago we broke down and started having H & R Block handle the forms. But there's still a lot of data to get ready.

In my case, it's what happened with my business for 2009. There's something to be said for being a 'wage slave:' but I think I made the right decision.

Anyway, when I drove the van up to a pump at the local Holiday Super Stop, I went through the usual routine and eventually got over a gallon of gas in the tank. If I was really careful, I could squeeze almost two tenths of a gallon out before the pump stopped.

Dribbling gasoline into the van a squirt at a time, when I had maybe fifteen gallons to go, I didn't have time for. Or patience.

So I went inside to settle up for what I'd managed to coax out of the pump.

A young woman was ahead of me in the checkout line, playing the Minnesota lottery. I don't have moral objections to gambling as such ("Halloween's Coming: Why aren't I Ranting?," A Catholic Citizen in America (October 29, 2009)), and I realize that the Minnesota state government likes to get money. Still, after a while watching someone else go through a the scratch-and-check process with several cards - - -. Well, it was a good opportunity to practice patience.

Turns out, the pumps had been 'fixed.' They're much safer now. The system isn't supposed to be quite that paranoid over data from the overflow sensor, though. The senior clerk told me when I could call in and tell one of the managers about the situation. Seems I wasn't the first one to run into the issue.

The other clerk, a young man maybe in his early 20s (everybody under about 35 looks like a kid to me, these days), went out to the pump to see what he could do with it.

It worked perfectly, of course.

All problems should be solved so easily.

Next stop, Fleet Supply - but I wrote about that in the Easy Griller blog, and there's still those tax records to go through.

The sunlight's still in my eyes: or would be, if I hadn't gotten smart, put on a hat and pulled it down until the brim blocks out the sun, but not most of the monitor. I'd better get back to work.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Information Technology, Birthdays, and Dusty Humor

I went to Alex today, partly to get a new router. This may resolve some of the issues we've had with using the Internet. Or, not. It was a good day for driving: overcast, so glare wasn't an issue. And the sky looked like rain, or something, was coming. Rain, as it turns out.

I got home a little before supper. While we were eating, my son left the room. Then returned. He'd swapped out routers, installing the new one.

Knocking my webcam offline in the process - temporarily. He explained that the service I use is very good at reestablishing connections. I checked - and sure enough, the webcam was back in service. With a notation in the log that it hadn't been able to get a signal out for a while. I'll be able to get the full report late tomorrow. If I'm interested: which I'm not, terribly.

I thanked him for doing the job. And told him that I want to be told when he does something like that. Before he does it.

We set the clocks forward Saturday night, in compliance with Daylight Saving time. Which may have made sense around 1920. Make that March 19, 1918: I did a little checking, and that's when this country jumped on the bandwagon.

It was all the rage in Europe: so dragging our schedules may have seemed like a very sophisticated idea at the time. I've gotten the impression that this country didn't really get over being a former colony until sometime around 1900. And car commercials were still talking about "European styling" recently. 'Recently' by my standards - say within the last decade or so. I'm getting off-topic.

There may, again at the time, have been some practical reason. I harangued about this in another blog. ("I'm Blaming Daylight Saving Time: or, Not," Drifting at the Edge of Time and Space (March 17, 2010))

Whether or not the time change had anything to do with it, I was in a fog, mentally, from about Sunday to yesterday. I'll be catching up for a week. Or, deciding that some of the tasks can be dropped entirely for those days.

#1 daughter is up in the Red River Valley of the North now, visiting #2 daughter and my son-in-law. Also checking out a house or two, I understand. She's graduating this spring (assuming all goes well), and plans to move up there. Again, so I understand.

And, we celebrated #1 daughter's birthday while she was here on spring break. My wife got a candleholder/candle with a music chip in it. Twist it to the "on" position, and it plays "Happy Birthday to You." Over and over and over. #1 daughter, after about a dozen repetitions - maybe fewer - noted that it was getting monotonous.

My son will be turning 14 soon. I found a small pile of information technology trade magazines on the stairs a day or so ago. They didn't look familiar, so I checked the address block. I thought they might have been something my father had subscribed to: I got my taste for - eclectic? - unfocused? - knowledge from him. (For some online communities I'm in, where it says 'interests' I've said that I'm only interested in three things: What exists within the universe, what exists beyond, and what might exist.)

The magazines were addressed to my son. I'll want to ask him about them some time. Mostly to see if I may read them. Not to check up on him - those things are serious, business-oriented trade magazines. Yeah: he's that sharp. He's also 14, so I wouldn't count on his ability to make business decisions. Yet. No reflection on his abilities: at 13 going on 14, who is?

Something that doesn't happen very often: my father-in-law thought something I said was funny. He likes me just fine, but my humor tends to be dry. Dusty.

This time, my wife had told him about a discussion she and I had, about an extension of the garage. She received an inheritance, and bless her heart: she's spending in on (long overdue) replacement of the decades-old plumbing in the bathrooms. Also a patio (we've wanted it for over 2 decades - this time she has the money for it). Her choice.

Anyway, we were talking about adding to the garage so we could get two vehicles inside.

She was explaining the need to keep both vehicles inside, all good, practical, logical reasons. Then she added that it would also give her more room to practice tennis.

Then I said something like, 'Ah! The real reason.'
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