Monday, April 30, 2007


We had a rough night with Bert. He woke up about 3 and didn't settle for a long time after that. Regis thinks it's my fault because I gave him water to drink when I got up with him once. That's your major denial, I believe. He's not in pain and he's still active and eating but he is getting closer to circling the drain. Bert, not Regis.

We had a typical stormy spring day today. The first PE class played under sunny skies but an hour later when it was time for the second class to go out, the sky is rumbling like a bowling alley and there's big ass lightening. I like the thunder, more so since Bert has gone deaf. He used to have horrific apoplectic fits and practically tear the house apart when it stormed. One year we got a prescrition for Trazadone which the vet said would likely put him into a deep sleep. It barely slowed him down and we came home a couple times to a room that looked like it had been pillaged. So, HoH (hard of hearing) is better.

It's a good thing I don't have small children in my house anymore because the county would surely be here to issue me a citation. We have no milk, about two pieces of dried up bread, nothing even approaching the makings for a meal. Pitiful. I'm trying to make it to Wednesday when it's more convenient to buy groceries. I could make pancakes and bacon but it's that or dining out.

We found out today that a rare plant, the corpse plant is about to bloom at Gustavus. It's an interesting story and you can read about it here. Here's a link to a webcam where you can watch it bloom. Probably better that you aren't there in person. It's called a corpse plant because it smells like rotting meat. They can get quite tall in the wild...up to 8 feet. There's quite a stir about it at Gustavus so you better take a look.

More about the stormy weather. Margaret Spellings sent every school in the country a weather radio last fall. How nice of her. I guess it's a lovely parting gift before the feds take over your school because you didn't make your AYP. I had to set it up today and man, was that a job. I had to find a window that faces the direction from which the NOAA signal would be coming. Then I had to enter the six-digit NOAA codes for our county and any other county for which I wanted warnings for any number of natural or man-made disasters. I think I did it right but when there were warnings later, the alarm didn't go off at all but it did give a nice verbal report about a warning for Goodhue County. What did I expect? The person who wrote the directions was either not a high school graduate or not a native English speaker. Press enter keys four time to make radio go. Ah, yes. That's probably where I made my mistake.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Too tired...

I'm too tired to post much tonight. We went to Canby yesterday and spent the day with my sweet Mom. We cooked on the grill and then went to the Leo Kottke concert in Marshall...the tickets were a Christmas present. We loved leo, as usual, and the theater in Marshall is beautiful. We were up until midnight which is unusual for us, and awake early this morning. We sat on the deck and watched George chase squirrels and robins out of the yard, then left for home about 10:30. As soon as we got home, I changed into garden shoes and went out to work in the yard. I cleaned a truck load of leaves and dead plants out then Regis helped me load it into the truck and take it to the compost pile. I'm about half done. It looks like most things survived...maybe the cheddar pinks are going to be spindly and ugly so they might get crossed off the list. I don't like plants you have to baby. I have to take the Round-Up to the artemisia because it's spreading everywhere. At least it won't be as hard to get rid of as the pampas grass. It will be a busy week. Regis starts his new job tomorrow, I have a couple after-work meetings, we're having a garage sale on Saturday and we're going to see Dean McGraw at the Bothy on Friday night.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dr. Urban reports on Bert's complicated health issues

Dr. Urban called us back about Bert. Yes, it could be canine cognitive dysfunction, it could be seizure activity that looks different than it has in the past, it could be sensitivity to storms, it could be the diuretic that he takes twice a day. Hard to tell. She didn't recommend any expensive medical diagnostics this time but said we should watch his appetite and activity level which have been fine. This is the dog with the 24 inch vertical jump and the voracious appetite. The last two nights, Bert has slept most of the night and we've come home to dry puppy pads. Maybe he heard me on the phone...

We went out to Whiskey River for a burger and a beer tonight. We ran into Jim and Deb Hughes, old neightbors of mine. We had a good time talking smart and playing the cardboard cocaine (pull-tabs). No big wins but a lot of laughs.

That's all to report tonight.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A fire in the trash bin

Today was eventful. First of all, I don't want to start a rumor (I almost said an untrue rumor but I was stopped by the Department of Redundancy Department) but I heard today that Scott Anderson of the below mentioned entry might be coming to the Treaty Site History Center. Not too weird since I read the book Canoeing with the Cree for the book club. Still a little ironic.

I just checked the web for Scott Anderson and found this: he died sometime after his trip and the writing of the book. Check this out here.

The big event was our fire. Last night we cooked on the grill. Regis dumped the tray full of ash into our garbage dumpster, not realizing that one of the hot coals escaped into the tray. After dinner, he rolled it down to the street for garbage pick-up day and when I went down to put one last bag in this morning, I opened the lid and WHOOSH...smoke and stench of burning garbage. There were no flames but obviously things had been smoldering...the bags were melty and yellowed and there was an ooze of burned garbage on the surface of the dumpster. I took two watering cans full of water down and doused the trash with it. You know what happens when you pour water on a smoldering fire: you get a big cloud of stinky smoke up in your face. I'm sure I smelled like a dump all day even though my friends at work insisted that I did not. Hard to tell someone, yeah, you do smell like a dump full of burning garbage.

Regis and I spent an hour after work on paperwork. Life insurance details, car insurance, transferring a tax sheltered annuity (I'm not even sure what that is), and COBRA benefits. I loathe that kind of stuff. It's like putting gas in your car...necessary things that you shouldn't have to take time and energy to do. When I win the lottery, I'm going to hire someone to take care of that crap for me. And again...don't ever let an insurance agent tell you this: Oh, no, it isn't hard to transfer all those policies.

The other thing we're dealing with is our internet provider. We have our services bundled, which is a diplomatic way of saying that we have stuff we don't really want like call waiting and 450 channels so they can charge us more. We don't watch much tv and think we can live without it, we rarely use our land phone line so all we really want from them is the DSL service. They won't sell us that alone. They insist we have a phone line even though you don't really need one to have DSL but they can't charge you as much then. There's some competition in town now and they'll sell us DSL without a phone line so we might switch. Why make it easy for telemarketers by having a land line?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Friday, wait...Monday

Today was almost as bad as a Friday. I had a blistering meeting at the high school that made me come home and chop vegetables for the grill like a mad woman. We had shrimp, red potatoes, red onions, mushrooms, cabbage, and pineapple skewers (with a brown sugar and butter glaze). It was very good and helped to dispel the stress. Oh my God, Johnny Depp's on Inside the Actor's Studio. I have to go.

Later: We've missed the last two book club meetings because (hate to admit) that we didn't get the books read. The last one was a bear...something about frogs. The next one is called Canoeing with the Cree and it's very good. Eric Sevareid, when he was 17 years old, and a friend who's 20, take a canoe from Fort Snelling, down the Minnesota River to the Red River and up to Hudson Bay. Amazing that they could do it in the days before bug repellant, Gore- Tex, and nylon. It's a very good book about a great adventure. Another book to recommend would be Distant Fires by Scott Anderson, a Minnesotan. This from the Library Journal:
Following much the same route taken by Eric Severeid and Walter Port in 1930 ( Canoeing with the Cree ), Anderson and his college friend set out to canoe up lakes Superior and Winnepeg and down the Gods River to York Factory on Hudson's Bay. The three-month, 1700-mile trip was full of wind, rain, and discomfort, but Anderson's account is also filled with humor, a youthful zest for life, and a mature sense of the history and culture through which they passed. "Life is pursuit, not the capture," he believes, and the "distant fires" of the North remain a goal even as this particular journey is ended. Neither a how-to nor a step-by-step description, this is an enthusiastic tale of following a dream.

I don't live dangerously myself. Not flossing regularly is a big risk for me, but I do enjoy a good adventure story. Check out The King of the Ferret Leggers. Put it in the google. It's a great story. It's in this book, The Best of Outside.

Bert had a bad night last night. Starting about 3 a.m. he was up and down from the bed, pacing around on the hardwood floor of the bedroom panting, and wanting to go outside repeatedly. So, I read about geriatric dogs on the internet today. Now, don't write (or call) and counsel me about euthanasia; we know what it is and who does it. I did call the vet after making making my own diagnosis of canine cognitive dysfunction. CCD. She hasn't called back yet. CCD is like doggie dementia...pacing, confusion, and loss of appetite are characteristic. Bert has no appetite problems but he does pace and he does have some repetitive behavior like licking his paws. We aren't interested in doing a bunch of diagnostic tests like an MRI, chest x-ray, or a blood panel and he isn't ready for Dr. Kevorkian yet. In many ways, he's very active and exuberant. He loves food, jumps on the bed, and prances around the yard sniffing at and peeing on every blade of upright grass. We just want him to stop waking up in the middle of the night. It makes us cranky.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Betty's Birthday: April 23rd

Happy Birthday, Betty!

We celebrated Betty's birthday with a cook-out at Kathy and Harvey's on Saturday. The menu was all appetizers, most cooked on the Weber grill: rye bread with cream cheese spreads, crab cakes with mango salsa, chicken wings that had been marinated in some delicious cumin, cayenne, celery seed stuff, asparagus with balsamic vinegar, scallops wrapped in bacon, portabella mushrooms, cheddarwurst, bruschetta with pesto sauce and provolone, pineapple and banana kabobs. Kathy served a chocolate drizzled cream pie for dessert.

It was all delicious and we kind of ate our way through the day. There are more pictures on my mac website. There are more food pictures...for some reasons I like to take pictures of food lately. (See St. Patrick's Day website!) The food is always so good and it's fun to look back and remember.

It was so windy in the middle of the afternoon that we sat in the garage, but about dusk, the wind went down and we pulled our chairs out onto the driveway. I suppose this is a rube-ish thing to do...sit in the garage and on the driveway. Do people in ritzy neighborhoods do this? Ah, well. That's life in a small town.

Regis had to go back to work at ACS today. The Midwest Call Center has someone else starting Monday the 30th so they asked if he could wait until then. Big groan from me. He's having a string of sad phone calls from people wanting to make reservations or cancel reservations today. It's never for a good or happy reason. It's kind of like bed sales that way...sometimes people bought a new bed just because...but many times it was a divorce or a move or a fire. Maybe the new job will be less stressful that way, too.

I better get something done today. We might get severe weather later which means I will be sitting in the basement wringing my hands. Hahahahahah. Not really.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Friday night

This is a Friday night at 7:15 kind of blog entry. I'm too tired to move. I made grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner which is cheesy (ha) I know, but I couldn't even muster the gumption to find the phone number for a pizza place. I'm on my way to bed with the sun still out and I know that's pathetic. If we had a tv in the bedroom, I would lie there and try to watch something. Dancing With the Stars, for example, would be about my level of intellectual functioning tonight. I might look at a catalog but reading a book with actual meaningful English sentences sounds like too much work. I surfed the web a little and put three pair of sunglasses totaling a hundred dollars (WTF?) in a shopping cart somewhere. In my defense, they filter 100% of the UV rays. Better wait until tomorrow to make that decision. This is how people move toward miserable Friday night after another and finally you are convinced that working, as much as you like the money and being able to pay your bills, only increases world suck. Who needs to feel like this? Did ancient people feel like this on Friday night? Did they crawl onto their mats by the fire and groan, too tired to throw a wild pig on the spit?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

One thing I hate about spring

I'm sitting on the couch in my robe at 7:15 and the sun is coming straight in a west window, illuminating the water spots and dog nose prints on the glass. How can a guy relax with that kind of stuff going on? At least in the winter when it's nearly dark as you walk in the door after work, you don't have to contend with reminders of your slovenly ways.

We went to the HyVee after work to buy groceries. Kathy and Harvey are having a party Saturday to celebrate Betty's birthday and Regis' new job. We're going to sit on the deck and grill appetizers and desserts. I'm making grilled crab cakes with mango salsa, asparagus with balsamic vinegar, bruschetta, and grilled slices of sweet potato. The dessert menu is just chunks of fresh pineapple and banana on skewers, maybe with a chocolate ganache. Lots of finger foods.

Regis and I stopped at the Mongolian Grill in Mankato after our shopping trip. You choose a bowl, pile in fresh vegetables and meat, noodles, and spicy sauces. They cook it on a huge and very hot grill, stirring with big sticks. One of the cooks would flip the bowl behind his back and over his shoulder. Great show and very good food but not much for ambience. Since you pay by the size of the bowl you choose, some pigs would really pile it on. One woman was applying the crusher move to her bowl in order to squeeze more in. How rude. You can pay two bucks more and get all you can eat but apparently that's too much work for those folks.

Good news on the dog front. Another complete day with no escapes. No mess to clean up on the kitchen floor either which can only mean that somebody snuck in here before we got home and cleaned it up. I would never suspect our dogs of elegant behavior. My brother Dave's big old St. Bernard, Onslow, died yesterday. We love our dogs and Onslow was around for 11 years so everyone is very sad. He's in dog heaven now with the other Saum dogs: Smokey, Cindy, Snoopy, Molly, Honey, and Pepper.

I'm going to watch Grey's Anatomy tonight but I think I'll give it up after this year. I'm starting to feel a little manipulated by it and who needs to cry over a stupid television soap opera? Regis and I have debated about disconnecting the tv altogether. We don't watch it very much and it's almost more irritating than entertaining when we do watch. The company that provides all our electronic services gives us a deal if we have three, internet, cable and telephone, so we'd save about five bucks if we quit one of them. I guess we get five bucks worth of entertainment out of it. We used to watch COPS once in a while and I get a kick out of Miami Ink. Can you get any more entertainment than that?

I'm reading a book called The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle. This is from one review: This is a profound and tragic tale, one that exposes not only a failed American Dream, but a failing America. Uffffff daaaaaaa. I might need to wait until summer to finish it as it sounds dark and depressing. I need a little more uplifting reading This Goat's Life, a blog about a goat farm in Washington state. Check it out. The latest story is a hoot and I can also recommend Rocky Road.

I guess I've rambled on long enough and linked my writing to every little stream of consciousness thought I've had tonight. Fascinating stuff, my boring life!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Regis on the move...again

Regis says he is as predictable in his job movement as Bert is at getting through a fence. Tom says we can count on Regis to give us a reason for a party at least once a month. Ha. Yesterday Regis was offered a job at the Midwest Call Center in Mankato. It's one of Glen Taylor's companies. He says it's a nice building with a pyramid thing on the top and an atrium in the center of the work area. Very nice touch. He took his drug test today and as soon as they get the results, he can start. Benefits, the main reason for the switch, start June 1st. This job has everything we hoped hours, weekends off, benefits, and a reasonable distance from home. He has another four weeks of training...he'll be like a customer service wiz.

I think we foiled Bert with a four-foot fence. To our knowledge he hasn't even tried to scale this one. So far, so good. If we find him in the living room now it will be because he's learned to unlock the back door (which is difficult with no opposable thumb), unlatch the gate, and has gone around to pick the lock on the front door. I wouldn't put any of this past him for a second.

I've tried a couple times to write something about what happened in West Virginia but I can't seem to do it. I haven't watched it on the news, just read some on MSNBC and the Trib. I really haven't watched the news for years (since the OJ Simpson thing) and it's a good thing. Most of the news is getting to be like the National Enquirer anyway....crap that you don't really need to know. We've argued about it at work. Some people are obsessed and want to watch and talk about it all the time. It's a sad and wretched thing to think about so I'd rather not.

Poem: "Nothing is Lost" by Noel Coward, from Collected Verse
Reprinted without permission.

Nothing is Lost

Deep in our sub-conscious, we are told
Lie all our memories, lie all the notes
Of all the music we have ever heard
And all the phrases those we loved have spoken,
Sorrows and losses time has since consoled,
Family jokes, out-moded anecdotes
Each sentimental souvenir and token
Everything seen, experienced, each word
Addressed to us in infancy, before
Before we could even know or understand
The implications of our wonderland.
There they all are, the legendary lies
The birthday treats, the sights, the sounds, the tears
Forgotten debris of forgotten 2007s
Waiting to be recalled, waiting to rise
Before our world dissolves before our eyes
Waiting for some small, intimate reminder,
A word, a tune, a known familiar scent
An echo from the past when, innocent
We looked upon the present with delight
And doubted not the future would be kinder
And never knew the loneliness of night.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Bert Wins

Last night when we went to the Bothy concert, we pushed chairs up against the fence and piled boxes on the chairs. It looked like the Berlin Wall in our living room. When we came home...guess what...Bert is sleeping on the couch. Today when we left for work, we had pieces of cardboard between the fence and the chairs. That kept him in but it was a little tough getting over it to get out the front door to go to work. Regis stopped at PetCo after work and got the heavier duty and taller fence for more determined dogs. We'll see how long it takes him to scale that. As a last resort, Regis suggested attaching bowling pins to his back legs with bungee cords. That might work. A friend of mine at work suggested invisible fence in the doorways, the stuff that gives a mild shock. That would never work; Bert would think the temporary pain was well worth the comfort of sleeping on the couch.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bertrand Russel Fritsch, AKA Houdini or Out-Witted by a Jack Russel Terrier

Don't be fooled by that innocent look. If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that Bert, in his dotage, has caused us plenty of angst. He has some health issues; some of his medication gives him a powerful thirst and some of his medication gives him the need to pee at inappropriate times and in inappropriate places. (Remember the Christmas tree skirt story?) We thought we had the problem solved. We went to Pet Expo and bought a portable pet fence that is three feet high and can be stretched to about ten feet long. When we leave the house, we run it between the living room and kitchen and we shut the other doors so he's contained. We bought puppy training pads and he learned to pee on those. On our way back from Mankato today we were saying how nice it is to have found a solution to this problem and it's so good to not be mad at Bert all the time for peeing and how the dogs seem to have adjusted just fine. We pull in the drive-way and.....STOP....there he is looking out the living room window at us. I swear he had a smirk on his face. We are astounded. What in the hell happened? The gate is still in place. We didn't leave anything in the way that he could jump on. The only possiblity is that Bert, in his decrepitude, completed a three-foot vertical leap from the slippery kitchen linoleum, levitated forward, and landed on the living room carpet. He's not likely to make this leap back into the kitchen when he feels the need to pee so that means we're back to square one. Regis is going to put a row of razor wire like they have at prisons on the top of the pet fence because I know, if we went back and bought the four-foot fence (another hundred dollars) Bert would have a heart attack and die, leaving us with 150 dollars worth of worthless pet fence. Damn that dog.

Electronic gadgets

Regis has this weird penchant for clocks, thermometers, and electronic gadgets. His latest purchase is a Radio Shack clock/weather forecaster. It's round and functions like a clock but the bottom half is like a mood ring. If it's coudy, it turns pink. If it's sunny, it turns red. Hey, it's a nightlight, too. Sometimes in the middle of the night, one of his electronic gadgets will start up...I've heard the theme song from the Lone Ranger, chickens crowing, and various beeps. One goes off every day about 4 o'clock but it's in a drawer and I can't find it. I'm not big on digital clocks...I like those old-fashioned clocks that have a face.

I finished reading Love in the Present Tense by Catherine Ryan Hyde. I liked it a lot. It's about a young man who watches the neighbor lady's five-year old sometimes and one day she doesn't come back. There's a bit of a mystery surrounding her disappearance but most of the book is about the relationship between Leonard and Mitch. This is the author of Pay It Forward which I didn't see.

Moving on to my Saturday chores. I cleaned out the refrigerator, did the dishes, and I think I'll go buy some groceries.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Back to spring...wait!

We've had a couple of busy days. Peter turns 20 tomorrow and thought he would be too busy to see us then so we took him out to dinner last night. He chose TimberLodge which was a mistake. The service was marginal, the food was less than stellar, and they screwed up the check even though our waiter had a grand total of two, count 'em, two tables. Lame. Peter was funny and social, even talkative. Such a nice change from his sullen and monosyllabic teen years. He told us all about his trip to Mexico...whale watching, tequilla, four-wheelers, tequilla, parties on the beach, tequilla, and conversating (his word) with a lot of very nice older people. I inquired about what he considered older and he said forty or fifty. At least he didn't say thirty. Ouch.

Well, I guess it wasn't a couple of busy was one busy day. Today we watched Ella but that's fun and not work at all. She took a little nap on the couch then ate a vegan waffle and a hot dog for dinner. We laughed about that combination but it's because she has dairy allergies. She liked the hot dog better than the vegan waffle which seems to demonstrate good sense for a baby. We gave her a big fat stuffed chicken for Easter and she loves it. She says, "chicken, chicken, chicken" and points at his big yellow beak. What a hoot.

That's our exciting life.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Back to winter

We had a day of almost spring-like weather yesterday where it was warm enough to sit in a lawn chair if you were on the south side of the house and protected from the wind. I won't even talk about that 80 degree anamoly from a few weeks ago. Today it's back to 30 degrees, wind chill, and icy precipitation. It's tiresome.

I'll tell you another thing. Having four days off to prance around in polite society makes it hard to go back to a building full of EBD kids. We had to give some inane state tests today which didn't's Dilbert of the education world. I have eleven test-related boxes on a table in my office. Two of them were mailed empty. Empty boxes were sent in the mail. See? It's the pointy haired guy at work. It took me five full hours to sort and check in all the crap in the nine not-empty boxes and will probably take at least another five to pass out the tests, collect them, and prepare them for return shipping. I'd put a picture of Dilbert right here if I weren't afraid of being sued. Hey... do they put you in a white-collar prison if you are convicted of copyright violation? Do they have hot tubs and wine in white-collar prisons?

Monday, April 09, 2007


My friend Kathy called me this morning and suggested that I get started sorting for the garage sale I might have in May. I thought this involved a leisurely poke through a few drawers in the bedroom and didn't see it as an imposition. I didn't protest and even drove out to school to pick up some Office Max boxes I bought last year in a fit of pique when I threatened to quit my job. But when Kathy showed up at 10:00, she had a different plan in mind. She wanted to start in the basement. I don't let very many people into my basement, it being the home of a multitude of dead bug carcasses and major dust bunnies. Kathy and Harvey had the unfortunate experience of spending some time down there last August when they were here for dinner during a tornado so I thought it quite brave of her to suggest we start there. In about four hours, we filled five huge contractor bags with stuff for the dump and three of the same kind of bag with stuff for the thrift store. It was an embarassing ordeal, let me tell you. Kathy doesn't have a thing out of place and doesn't keep anything past the time when it's useful. I have crap I've dragged around for thirty years, hoping I might read it again, find a use for it again, or want to look at it again. In that time, the crap has accumulated a fine collection of dust mites, bug bodies, and cobwebs. Well, it was trash bag time for that crap today. Kathy doesn't like garbage bags sitting around waiting for the day you might want to dispose of them...unlike me. We squashed it into the car and drove it out to school. We almost filled a big dumpster...I hope our custodian doesn't have to throw anything away for a while. It turned out to be a nice day, even with the basement purge. We cooked shrimp on the grill and had American fries and garlic toast. Nothing like a few carbs and a little wine to take the sting out of cleaning.

Easter Sunday

We had a lovely Easter Sunday. All the kids were here for dinner and they stayed into the evening. There was a lot of laughing and a lot of eating so I guess that means we had a fine time. Tiffany was worried that Ella wouldn't remember her...but she did. Ella is fascinated by Peter and always looks from head to toe like she can't believe how tall he is. There are more pictures here on Ella's page and on my mac site.

It was a little chilly in the afternoon but Ella and I went for a walk. I realized after I set her down, that sidewalks were kind of a new concept; she just made a bee-line out across the grass. I'd chase her down, get her going in a different direction, and away she'd go. Finally we got to the sidewalk and she held onto my finger as we walked. She carried on some kind of little conversation and pointed at things from time to time. It was very sweet.

I woke up with Regis this morning to help him get out of the house for work at 6. I made him a ham sandwich and some coffee, then read the Free Press which is a sorry-ass excuse for a newspaper some days, today being one of them. They must be short-staffed on holidays. I hate to go back to bed and waste a vacation day so I think I'll stay awake and do some things. The bedroom is still a mess from the ceiling fan project since we are not the type to finish a job completely like some people are. We seem to run out of gumption or interest...or maybe we're easily distracted. Who knows. Variation in human beings, I guess.

I have friends who say they won't go to bed at night with dirty dishes in the sink. That's never been a worry of mine. In fact, I'll leave them there for several days and not get too concerned. I assume these people are the kind who would finish putting in a ceiling fan and then would put the tools away and make sure the furniture is all back in the right places.

We're expecting snow and rain again tomorrow. (Paul Douglas even said more snow next week.) Holy hell. You should not have to go back to shoes and socks after having worn sandals once. It's cruel.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

What we did on Saturday...

We bought a new ceiling fan for the bedroom last weekend and spent a good share of today installing it. I probably shouldn't say we because it was mostly Regis. I held the screwdriver and the fan blades and did that sort of thing. Gopher jobs. I like the fan. Looks better than the one with skateboard stickers. I told Regis I woke up in the night worried that it would fall on us...this was before it was installed. He made sure to put a couple extra screws in it to make sure it wouldn't fall out of the ceiling.

We also cleaned the fish tank. We bought new guppies Thursday night and Ella likes to watch them so we wanted the glass to be clean when she comes tomorrow. We have lots of new fish lately, cheap and prolific fish because it seems like the more we spend the shorter the life span. That's one of our older fish in the picture. He's a rosy barb but he's pretty pale now because he's old. I like the guppies and sword tails because they come in gypsy colors. I'd love to have a saltwater tank if it weren't so much work of a detailed nature. The fish are beautiful.

I did some cooking today...Cuban bread, Easter cut-out cookies, and sloppy joe stuff. We might wait to frost the cookies until Tiff comes home later from a movie with her dad. Then we'll take a picture of the cookies. I decided to make this a more relaxed holiday but I'm still cooking like crazy...the cleaning is what I gave up. : )

Another project we did was to color two dozen eggs. I bought a package of color that required plastic gloves and promised the eggs would be "marbled". The colors are vivid but I'm kind of a fan of the old-fashioned color that requires vinegar and little colored tablets.

We had dinner and listened to Prairie Home Companion. Nice way to end a weekend.

Friday, April 06, 2007


We are suffering a conundrum. We have already seen the shotgun blasts to the lawn that signify our moles have awakened. Regis and I are not fussy lawn-keepers: We let the grass get long because we think it produces more oxygen, we don't mow in criss-cross patterns, and we rarely use chemicals because we aren't bothered by dandelions or other noxious weeds. We all have to live somewhere. But the moles are causing a problem. If you read my previous post (Saturday, March 10), you know that I'm not fond of the idea of killing them by any means chemical or mechanical because I read Mole Music...and we all have to live somewhere. The lawn gets so spongey from their little tunnels, though, that we're almost afraid to walk on it. Did you know a mole weighs 3-5 ounces but they can tunnel 200 feet in a day? We might only have one or two moles, but the little bastards are terrorists. Here's a letter we're going to leave on the lawn this weekend for the moles:

Dear Mound Makers-

Look, I am keenly aware that you were here prior to me buying the house. I am also aware that you were here before the house was built. This land is your land…I get that.

The thing is that I’m stressed out about you taking over my lawn. I don’t give a mole’s ass if you come up for air in the nooks and crannies of my yard. They’re yours. But, please, for the love of god and all things holy, leave my lawn alone.

I’ve researched several solutions to our co-habitation challenge: however, experts agree that the only real solution is your demise. I do have a trap out in the garage, in fact, it came with the house. I don’t know if you or your friends have seen these things…they’re terrifying.

I’d be happy to show it to you if you’d like. I’ll leave it by the large dirt mound (the one you favor) on my front lawn. Don’t worry, I won’t set it; it’s simply for display and educational purposes. Go ahead, touch it, get a feel for it. You know, I’ll even leave a latte next to it so you can ponder your decision in comfort.

I’m hoping we can work this out in a civil fashion, and so, I would appreciate a meeting of the minds with those in charge. Yes, take me to your leader…the decision maker. Perhaps we can agree to a homeopathic solution; one that won’t cause you any harm or discomfort.

Please consider my offer and respond accordingly.

Civilly yours,

Property Owners

Easter Weekend

I managed, by reading some of The Good Good Pig in the middle of the night, to sleep until 6:30 this morning. I've decided to make this a relaxed holiday so I'm not scrubbing the kitchen floor or any of that malarky. In some parts of the world people manage to serve an Easter dinner in a house with a dirt floor so I don't think I have to go nuts.

We're going to get Tiffany later and she likes to stop at the OK Corrall for dinner. They make those skinny onion rings (haystacks they call them) with a remoulade sauce. Here's Emerill's recipe:
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
3 tablespoons Creole whole-grain mustard
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons chopped parsley leves
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process for 30 seconds. Use immediately or store. Will keep for several days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

I'm not sure the OK Corrall goes to all this trouble, but maybe. Emerill serves it with shrimp. We went to the OK Corrall once and they had a group of Old West re-enactors. It was like stepping onto the set of Gunsmoke, ladies dressed like saloon girls and men in cowboy hats packing six-guns. They looked very authentic from what I know of the Old West (Gunsmoke).

There is a minus 4 windchill today which is darn cold for this time in April. No Easter egg hunts outside this year. I took my kids when they were little to one Easter egg hunt, found it really uncivilized and never took them to another one. Now I can feel guilty for all the things my kids didn't get to do because they had a mother who didn't like over-stimulation and big crowds. We never went to Valley Fair or the Wisconsin Dells. We went to the State Fair a few times but I was not a good sport about it. Bad mother. Now I'm going to read Joyce Sutphen's poem Things You Didn't Put on Your Resume.

Things You Didn't Put On Your Resumé
by Joyce Sutphen.
(Not) used with permission from the poet

Things You Didn't Put On Your Resumé

How often you got up in the middle of the night
when one of your children had a bad dream,

and sometimes you woke because you thought
you heard a cry but they were all sleeping,

so you stood in the moonlight just listening
to their breathing, and you didn't mention

that you were an expert at putting toothpaste
on tiny toothbrushes and bending down to wiggle

the toothbrush ten times on each tooth while
you sang the words to songs from Annie, and

who would suspect that you know the fingerings
to the songs in the first four books of the Suzuki

Violin Method and that you can do the voices
of Pooh and Piglet especially well, though

your absolute favorite thing to read out loud is
Bedtime for Frances and that you picked

up your way of reading it from Glynnis Johns,
and it is, now that you think of it, rather impressive

that you read all of Narnia and all of the Ring Trilogy
(and others too many to mention here) to them

before they went to bed and on way out to
Yellowstone, which is another thing you don't put

on the resumé: how you took them to the ocean
and the mountains and brought them safely home.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Thursday but kind of like Friday

It's the last day of the work week for both of us. It's a good thing it's the end because it's been a hell of a long one. Regis started working from 6-2:30 and just that change of schedule has beaten us up. Then add the bitter cold weather and the wind that kept Bert awake a few nights and you have raw nerves and lack of sleep.

One thing I realize that my regular blog entries have done is make me more aware of the bizarre stories that occur during a normal day. Like this morning, I'm having coffee at Waldo's and this about 50ish man comes in. He's balding with a soul patch and glasses, but the really weird thing is this guy has on a racoon coat. Not a new and stylish one, but one that looks like it came of your grandma's closet. And seriously, with a mink collar. This guy thought he was a stud as he posed and strutted in that moth-eaten coat. He got out of a nice car and was obviously not a derelict or a guy who shops at the thrift store. What is up with this coat?

Another funny thing happened at HyVee. We went over right after school to beat the rush. Right. There were lots of people there and they were getting on my one raw nerve. At the end of the tour, we decided to order Chinese (MOM...IT'S PRETTY GOOD!!!!). While we're standing there, I see Lori, a teacher from St. Peter, start looking at the baby watermelons. She picks one off the rack and they start to tumble down and roll across the floor. She tries to catch them and put them back on top but they keep tumbling off...more and more all the time. Regis goes to help catch watermelons while I summon a helper. They're cracking as they hit the floor and leaving a mess of watermelon juice all over that aisle. Regis and Lori are both trying to catch watermelons...she's embarrassed but doing a great job of catching those melons and lobbing them to the top of the pile. Hahahahahaha. It was a hoot. What's ironic is that Lori and I were in pottery class together. Not a totally successful venture either. Neither of us were very good at the wheel part and clay went flying across the room to smack against the wall at a pretty good rate. I think we both left class with two tiny pots, making the cost about 80 bucks a piece. We know now why pottery is so expensive.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

We love spring!

Here's the lawn chair we were using last week when the temperature was 80 degrees. This morning it was snowing and 22 degrees with a windchill that made it feel like two degrees below zero. Your exposed skin would freeze in ten minutes making walking from the parking lot to your office a dangerous venture. It makes you weary. The last two nights I've gone to bed before 8:30 and slept all night. Last night it sounded like the damn roof was going to lift off the house. Bert is deaf as a post but he senses big wind so he was agitated all night and got up and down off the bed, scratched at the door to get in, then out, and generally drove us crazy.

I made potato krub for dinner. Krub is a Norwegian potato dumpling that turns kind of gray and doughy-looking when it's cooked in water that turns into wallpaper paste. Regis likes it, although he had no experience with it as a child which leads him to ask questions like, "What are you going to have with it?". "Butter," I said. You wouldn't want to complicate a meal like this with a vegetable or protein. This is a super-concentrated carbohydrate meal that will help you survive a blizzard in April. See paragraph one above.

There is something kind of surreal about extreme weather changes like this. A week ago it was 80 and sunny and we were cooking on the BBQ grill. Today I needed a winter jacket and a gloves. What the hell. It's like being slammed back into November. I feel like I should be cooking meatloaf and baked potatoes but I have a taste for burgers and margaritas. I need wool socks but the sandals felt so good and my toes want to be liberated from my shoes. What next?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Say it isn't so: Is it really only Tuesday?

I wonder if that sentence (title of this post) is punctuated correctly. But really, who cares? the weather here has only gotten worse. The daffodils were rescued yesterday and today, the pansies had to come inside. We don't have the snow they're having up north (like St. Cloud and Alexandria for you non-Minnesotans) but it's about 25 degrees and windy as hell.

I came home and poured a glass of wine. I spent five hours today working on state test crap. We'll probably test fifteen kids and I had to unpack ten boxes. The stuff is numerical but not packed that way so I had to find fifteen-digit numbers on the packing list to make sure it was there and secure. This is probably HoMElanD security in charge of packing, if you know what I mean. Five hours of matching numbers, checking numbers, making lists of kids. I told the district test coordinator I am going to bill the state of Minnesota for my rehab. She said she isn't a drinker and I told her that BS like this is why God invented wine. Write your representative in Congress and see if it isn't true.

Regis got home about three and we relaxed and visited a little...then decided we wanted Ruben dip (recipe below) and pumpernickel rye for dinner. I had everything but the sauerkraut so had to run to the coop. I wasn't sure they would have it...sauerkraut not being a real vegetable. But they did so the menu was complete. We had an interesting conversation about the nature of his current workplace, that being that it sucks pretty bad. He likes the customer service part and enjoys the interesting people and situations...but they have an indentured servitude kind of deal. When the red light is on, indicating that things are really busy and calls are coming like crazy, you have to write your name on a white board so no more than two people can go to the bathroom at a time. I asked if you had to indicate number one or number two after your name. It's ugly. On the other hand, he met a nice woman from Alabama today who was so grateful for his help she blessed his heart and said she'd make him a southern breakfast if he ever came to Birmingham.

Ruben Dip
1.5 cups corned beef chopped fine (You can use Buddig...real is better.)
1 can sauerkraut drained, pressed on papertowels, and chopped
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
2 cups Hellman's mayo

Bake in casserole dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or put in small crock pot. Serve with rye chips or pumpernickel rye bread. Yum-oh as Rachel Ray says.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Monday, Monday

Man, it was a stress-filled day. Not like anything in particular was wrong...just weird and tight feeling. Maybe it's the weather. We had a tiny peek at the sun today but it's gone now and the clouds are back. I went out and rescued a bunch of daffodils when I heard it's going to be 22 tomorrow. They're hardy but heavy rain and snow is hard on them.

I saw three baby animals today. Deb Johnson and her family are raising a dog to be a leader dog for the blind. He's a seven-week old golden retriever baby and so damn cute you can hardly stand it. Then when I went into North Intermediate this afternoon, there were two baby lambs in the office. Regis tells me they belong to the family of animals called bovidae (small ruminants) that includes cows, sheep, and goats. Oh my, such wooly little heads and pretty little faces. I would love to raise sheep and goats but they would all have to die of old age because I could never send them to the know where. I saw an ad in the paper the other day...lamb for sale...will deliver to local processor. Uff da. That would be one sad ride down the road in the old pick-up truck for me.

I'm almost done with my book Let Me Finish by Roger Angell. Ironic since Herb Carneal died yesterday. You'll have to figure that out for yourself. He tells a story about one man he worked with who said he had dreams about the Queen Mum. They laughed and said she was quite a symbol (of something) and after all, didn't everybody dream about her? He said, "Erotic dreams?" Eeeeeuuuwwww. The next book I'm reading is called The Good Good Pig by Sy Mongomery. I wonder if pigs are in the bovidae family. And Regis thought I was only interested in transvestites.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Rain, rain, and more cold rain

It hasn't stopped raining for three days. Hard-driving and freezing cold rain. It pounds against the windows at night and during the day it's a steady cold mist with periods of heavy rain that comes sideways. Most unpleasant three days.

Yesterday we took Ella to Mankato. We thought she would enjoy the pet store and the bookstore but she was more interested in other little kids than books or pets. She found anyone between infant size and about ten-years old fascinating and she would wiggle down and toddle after them. She's a good sport and even let us do some shopping at Men-R-Nerds.

We're watching One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest which seems like a better movie than the last time I saw it more than ten years ago. We're going back to one movie at a time now that April's here. What a relief.

It will be a fairly slow week. No night-time activities and Friday off. I'll go get Tiffany for the weekend.