Category Archives: Family

Virtual Chicago

YA took a long weekend trip to Chicago the past three days.  I dropped her off early on Friday at the airport.   I was really looking forward to having a long weekend all to myself.  You all know that I adore YA but since I haven’t traveled for work since March of 2020, we haven’t really had a break from each other for quite a while now.

She didn’t ask me for any input on her trip, except for two questions, one about her Real ID and one about security at the airport.  When I asked her if she needed a packing list printed out (I have it on my pc), she said no.  (I did see that she had created and printed out her own packing list when I took a couple of things into her room yesterday!)  As the parent of a young adult, I was not expecting to hear from much if at all until her pick-up (noon today).

It was a nice surprise on Friday afternoon when I got a photo text of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte by George Seurat with a question about whether this was my favorite painting (I had mentioned my favorite painting was hanging in the Chicago Art Institute – this isn’t it). 

Later on Friday I got a quick text about an “ok impossible burger” but no photo to enshrine the meal.

Then on Saturday morning this photo came.

I didn’t realize right away that it was taxidermy – The Natural History Museum.   A bit later, a photo of Sue, the famous tyrannosaurus rex, showed up (header photo).  No texts about dinner.

Yesterday, there was a photo of a breakfast taco and smoothie and then, some real polar bears at the Chicago Zoo

This was followed by a picture of a lovely flower – the Botanical Gardens.  I didn’t even remember that this was on her schedule. 

No photo of the pizza dinner last night.  Her flight arrives at noon today so no more photos will be coming. But I definitely feel like I had a trip to Chicago even though I barely left the house over the weekend!

If you could get a virtual tour of someplace, where would that be?

Making Progress

All things do eventually arrive. Even good weather.

The corn is all planted and we’re working on soybeans. Growing Degree Units for my area are at 317; about 90 above normal, which, I’m finding hard to believe as cool as it was this spring. But I read it on the internet so it must be true.

I’m still struggling with the pinched nerve and I’m lucky my brother has been coming out and helping do fieldwork the last few years. He and Kelly got to work last Saturday with me pointing and giving instructions and they took the loader off the tractor, hooked up the corn planter, got it all greased, filled it with seed and started planting corn. Several times it became clear to us how many things we just do, without thinking about them, and then have to explain to someone *how* to do it, is much more difficult. Communication people, Communication.

Kelly planted the first field of corn. Again, so many things to watch, that I do automatically, but trying to explain it all to her…well, one thing at a time. It wasn’t helpful that sometimes I change my mind in the middle of what’s happening. But she did it! I knew she could! She just hadn’t had too before. Eventually I discovered I was able to get into the tractor and I was able to do the planting. I have more corn this year than normal, partially because the co-op and I had a mix up of maps and they weren’t spreading the fertilizer where I expected them to spread it. A few phone calls and texting photos of maps back and forth solved the issue. I’m still not sure what happen but it’s OK and I’ll verify next year before we start.

Several very fortuitous things have come about this year. We bought a gator two years ago; one of those side by side utility vehicles. I’m able to get in that and drive it. I can park it at the back door, I can drive it through the fields, and into the shed. It’s been very valuable. And the decision last fall to have the co-op spread all the fertilizer, while at the time was more about precision application of nutrients, certainly became valuable this spring as I wasn’t trying to explain how to run the fertilizer wagon to Kelly. Not to mention having to refill the planter so often. With the co-op doing it, all the corn fields are fertilized at once and I just have someone add seed to the planter and I can go many more acres before needing a refill. Ah, those decisions we make without realizing their full implications.

The barn swallows returned the first week of May and a pair have built a nest on top of a wind chime outside our front door. This has been a regular occurrence the last few years. We’ve learned to put some cardboard down to collect all the droppings. And a Robin is building a nest on top of a gutter downspout where it angles under the eave, at the back door. I enjoy watching the swallows fly around me when out in the fields. I’ve been seeing pheasants near the CRP, (Conservation Reserve Program) fields. He doesn’t seem to be very afraid of me in the tractor. One day daughter took a walk and said she saw an owl. I thought that was kind of unusual and figured she meant a hawk. Two days later, Kelly and I were going to get the mail, and there was an owl! Daughter was right.

Planting corn was almost without issues. On the second to last field, the planter settled to the ground by itself once and I thought the hydraulic valve on the tractor must be leaking. (It’s hydraulic oil that holds it up). When I got to the last field, I realized there was an oil leak and that’s why the planter had lowered itself. Oh. Heck. I tried to finish planting but it soon became apparent I was losing too much oil. Making a run for home, I almost made it before running completely out of hydraulic oil. The next day we found the leak and my brother got it apart, I found a replacement, he reassembled, and we finished planting corn.

The chicks are growing up; they’re kind of at that awkward teenage phase.

I watched a pair of guineas the other day. I’m not sure if they were fighting or playing or mating.

When have your intentions been misunderstood?

Royal Living

Last week I extolled calling a professional concerning my front porch.  The stucco guys weren’t the only professionals I called upon last week.

The story of my “privy” is a long one.  When I moved into my house 30 years ago, the lid on the bank had been previously broken in 2 places and glues back together….badly.   The glue had been liberally applied and the excess, which had yellowed, had not been wipe off.  It looked so awful that I always draped a towel or napkin over it.   A few years later, it got dropped and broken again, this time it couldn’t be put back together again.  Luckily YA, Child back then, found an exact replacement at Architectural Antiques downtown.

I had learned early on to changed out the tank ball; it needed to be done every year or so.  I also installed a new fill valve several years back.  So when the trip lever broke about a year ago, I figured it would be a quick fix.  Wrong.  I won’t go into the excruciating detail, suffice it to say, it went from bad to worse and we ended up having to jiggle as we flushed and then jiggling again after the ball dropped.  Sometimes twice.  I’ve probably spent 40 hours in the last year trying to adjust, replacing levers, replacing the ball.  Awful. 

I was pretty sure what the plumber would tell me, but when he showed me what was contributing to my issues and talked through the repairs, I knew that I had been right to expect the worse.  He came back two days later and voila – a new throne!  It uses less water, fills faster and does its job better.  I almost wish I had replaced it years ago.  YA is reserving judgement as it’s taller than the old one.

Toilet paper – over or under?

Chomping at the Bit

Chomping at the bit.  I think this is a horse reference, right?  I’m not a horse person but I’ve heard this phrase my whole life; I can see a horse chomping at a bit in my mind’s eye and I can certainly understand the feeling.  Something between your teeth that is driving you nuts and you can’t do anything about it.  I’m right there.

Although we’ve had a couple of superb days, the wait for days warm enough for gardening has been tough.  It’s been too cold (and/or rainy) to get out and do anything.  A few mornings last week as I was fertilizing and watering my bales, I felt like an idiot out there.  One of the mornings, it wasn’t even above freezing and it seemed like a fool’s errand to be preparing bales when I was sure it would be at LEAST 2 weeks until I could plant (I almost always plant on Mother’s Day). 

YA and I did hit Bachman’s on Sunday, but all the flowers and veggies are in their little pots, sitting on the front porch in those cardboard boxes that Bachman’s uses.  They’ll have to be watered a couple of times before we get to planting.

I’ve been busy enough at work that I couldn’t take any days off this week and both of my upcoming weekend days have an engagement right in the middle of the day!  So I either go out and get dirty, get cleaned up, then go out later and get dirty again or I only get work done in the yard in the morning or the afternoon.  Maddening.

What spring routines are you chomping at the bit to get to?

Cutting Edge

The breeder of our soon to be obtained puppy feeds his dogs a grain-free dry dog food that is good through the life span. No special varieties for puppies or senior pooches. It is only obtainable at Costco.

There is a Costco in Bismarck, 100 miles away from our town. It has only been there a couple of years. (Cutting edge progress is slow to arrive here.) I have not suggested we get a Costco membership until now. If the breeder thinks this is good food for his pups, who am I to argue. He has healthy, happy looking dogs who win prizes at shows.

I have resisted getting a Costco membership until now because I know our grocery buying habits, and worried that we would end up buying even more freezers for basement than the three we have now. I believe it was Bill who dubbed us opportunistic grocery shoppers. He is correct.

We stopped at the Bismarck Costco on Monday and got our membership. As we walked back to get the dog food, Husband asked me to hold his arm so he wouldn’t wander off and get lost amidst all the enticing food stuffs and gadgets and other wonderments we observed. We limited ourselves to dog food. When I told our children about it, Son said he and his wife had been contemplating their own membership. Daughter, of course, said she has had a membership for four years. Why didn’t we just ask her to order the dog food? Always on the cutting edge, that girl.

It is good the store is 100 miles away. We can’t just pop in for a look. Oh, I hope this works!

When have you been on the cutting edge? What do you like to buy at stores like Costco? What do you like to feed your pets?

On the Loose

Last week as YA and I were coming home from the office and pulling up the driveway, we had to stop suddenly as a mallard duck was sitting right in there in all his glory.  He moved into the front yard and was still there a few minutes when YA went out the front to take photos.  At that point the duck headed south to our neighbor’s yard where a couple of his buddies were also hanging out.  I searched my memory and couldn’t remember ducks in our yard.  The occasional turkey but never ducks.

About a half an hour later, Guinevere went completely bonkers; I looked out the window and saw one of the ducks on my neighbor roof!  He didn’t stay long but long enough for YA to get a picture and to comment “the ducks are on the loose.”

Doesn’t seem like much to comment on but the phrase “on the loose” always makes me think about Hot Frogs on the Loose by Fred Small. 

I don’t know if this is my favorite LGMS song, but it’s up there.  It didn’t make the list on the Keepers by Request (which you can still find if you want… if you search for Keepers by Request on the Radio Heartland website, it comes right up) but if you want to hear about hot frogs, you can find it on YouTube easily enough. 

Let’s have a music day – tell me one (or more) of your favorite LGMS tunes!


I just returned from a meeting of State and Provincial psychology regulatory boards held in New Orleans. It was our first in-person meeting in two years, and the Louisiana Board was so happy and proud to have the conference in their state.

One of the Louisiana Board members is a native of Louisiana and the the co-founder of a Mardi Gras krewe. I don’t know much about these organizations, but they seem integral to the celebration of Mardi Gras across the state and host parade floats, wear costumes, and have all sorts of parties and concerts throughout the year. He gave out Mardi Gras doubloons from his krewe to the conference attendees this weekend. The doubloons are large, colored, cast aluminum coins that are thrown from Mardi Gras parade floats. He also made us honorary members of his krewe, and translated the “secret” Latin motto of his Krewe, which is “Sicut equites aggredtuntur hominem vivere oportet” . I forgot the exact meaning, but it had something to do with living life to the fullest.

Our grandson turns 4 today, and I told him over the phone that I had pirate doubloons to give him when we see him in two weeks. (It would have been this coming weekend, but his mother is afflicted with COVID, and we had to change our travel plans.) Our son told our grandson that we were in a pirate town, and he is so excited to see the pirate coins and the pirate jeweled necklaces I got in New Orleans. It is magical to him, and I love to feed his imagination with simple things that can take on such meaning. Those are the best toys, I think.

Have you ever been to Mardi Gras? What seemed magical when you were a child? What were your best toys? Translate the Latin motto, if you can.

The Everclear Inn

We have a small airport in our town that has flights to Denver in rather small planes. It works pretty well as long as your final destination is somewhere in the West or Southwest. If you are flying East, it makes more sense to drive to Bismarck and take a plane to Minneapolis and then to where you need to end up.

Since Bismarck is in the Central Time Zone and we are in Mountain Time, getting to the airport two hours before an 8:00 flight means leaving our town at 3:30 am. We choose to spend the night in Bismarck instead of having such an early flight. The traveler’s choice is usually a hotel in South Bismarck that offers free shuttle service to the airport and lets you leave your vehicle in their parking lot.

This hotel used to be called The Expressway Inn. It recently has been given new management and a new name, and is deteriorating rapidly in terms of service and cleanliness. We stayed there Wednesday night. Husband dubbed it The Everclear Inn in a play on its new name. I noticed in the elevator a sign extolling their modern hygiene practices, such as “electrostatic room cleaning”, whatever that might mean. It is just too bad it is the closest hotel to the airport. It is still probably better than driving to Bismarck in the middle of the night. We flew back into Bismarck late Sunday night. The Weather Service prediction of heavy snow and ice over the weekend made it prudent to spend the night and drive home on Monday morning. Husband insisted on the Hampton Inn, a step up from our usual. I will be glad to be home.

What have been your more interesting lodging experiences? Come up with some interesting scenarios for electrostatic cleaning. How do you manage airports these days?

Bringing Up Baby

In two weeks we will pick up our new Cesky Terrier pup in Oklahoma. He will be a about 12 weeks old. We haven’t had a puppy in the house in 20 years. That was when we got our second Welsh Terrier. We have been considering all the things we will need, such as a crate, as we are crate training, leash, collar, puppy chews, treats for reinforcement, and dog bed. We will take the breeder’s recommendations for the kind of food and the immunization schedule. We will have him microchipped. Our son is encouraging us to get a bell to hang on the back door for the dog to ring when it has to go outside. He successfully trained his West Highland Terrier to do that.

When we got our first Welsh Terrier, the breeder, who lived in Mankato, was dismayed to find out that we were psychologists. She said that, in her experience, psychologists weren’t consistent enough to raise terriers. We did pretty well with our dogs, I thought. They were terribly impulsive and naughty, but that is sort of how Welsh Terriers are. They never bit anyone, and I consider that a success.

I think that we will have more time for dog training since we have no kids at home like we did with the Welshies. Our new pup will have all our attention. I do know that I am not going to let him sleep with us, like we did our first dogs. He will sleep in his crate. I am also prepared to be exhausted for the first couple of months getting up in the night to take him outside, but that will get better with time. I think, this time, though, I will get a terrier training book our son recommended. I will show that Mankato breeder we raise can a good terrier citizen with excellent manners.

What do you consider essential puppy accoutrements? What successes or flops have you had training pets?

Cabin Fever

Yesterday was my first day back at work in two weeks, and I was curious how my coworkers spent their time during the blizzard. Half were ecstatic about the time off, loving the isolation and the enforced stay at home. The other half hated every minute of it, feeling trapped and anxious. I think that is called cabin fever.

There was a very funny article in the New Yorker April 11 by Ian Frazier about cabin fever and what it is like to go stir crazy. He used to live in a cabin in western Montana, and noted how socially awkward he became the longer he spent in isolation in the woods. He also noted that in 2018, a Russian scientist at a research station in Antarctica stabbed another Russian scientist because he kept giving away the ending of books. I am happy to report that none of my coworkers stabbed anyone, but of course they were only snowbound for three days.

Because of the way the snow blew in, there is a huge pile of snow on our roof on the front of the house, and the melting has caused enormous icicles to form right by our front door. You could stab someone with one of those, I suppose. It is a good thing that Husband and I both like being at home, and neither of us gives away the ending of books.

Have you ever had cabin fever? Who would you like to be snowbound with? Ever read much by Ian Frazier?