Category Archives: Family

Puppy’s First Pow Wow

Last Saturday we drove 70 miles to Twin Buttes, a small community on the Fort Berthold Reservation to see dear friends there at the pow wow. It didn’t go well.

Our friend, Linda, was back home and ill. Her husband was there in his camper, so we could hang out with him and his extended family. Unbeknownst to us, Puppy had ingested a whole bunch of grape vine bark from our deck before we left, and hurled in the van on the way to the pow wow. He was terrified of the drumming, even though we were in the campground and fairly far from the arbor where the drums and dancing were. The dancers in their regalia frightened him. (He is Czech, you know and was expecting polkas.) There were lots of clumps of mowed and dried foxtail grass where our friend had his camper, and Puppy started to devour them in an attempt to hurl up the remaining grape vine bark. The grass stuck in his fur and in his throat, and he coughed and gagged, and he was not receptive to the attentions of our friend’s great nieces and nephews who wanted to pet him. He continued to hurl grape bark and foxtail grass for a couple of days after we got home. I am still combing fox tail burrs out of his fur.

What frightened you as a child? What frightens you now? What kind of dancing to you like?

What’s Your Sign?

On our recent trip to Fargo, our family stopped in to the bookstore at Concordia College in neighboring Moorhead, MN to get some Concordia gear. Daughter, son, daughter in law, and I are all alums, and we needed new sweatshirts. I had no sweatpants, so I got some of those, too. Grandson even got a t shirt.

I typically avoid wearing clothes with designer labels or slogans. I don’t feel the need to be a walking billboard. I feel differently about my college, though. The gear is really comfortable, too.

I remember back in the day when it was pretty common to ask people what their zodiac sign was when you met them, as though that would tell you everything you needed to know about the person. I am Aquarius. Husband is Sagittarius. I no longer remember if that makes us compatible or not. We will be married 39 years come September. I still sometimes read my horoscope in our weekly paper, though, just to see what I should expect. It is never correct.

What is your zodiac sign? Is is an accurate reflection of your personality? Ever been to a fortune teller?


About 20 years ago I worked with a young woman who had a tattoo across her wrist.  Turned out is said “I’ll always love” and was in memory of her mother who had passed away a few years earlier. 

Since then I have always thought that maybe somebody I would be a tattoo commemorating the big love of my life – YA.  I wanted flowers with YA’s name, preferably in her own handwriting.  I’ve mentioned this repeatedly over the years and I’m sure that YA was sick of hearing about it.  My questions the last year about who is reputable got next to nothing, although she did once mention Grand Avenue Tattoo over in St. Paul.  I wasn’t sure if YA was embarrassed that her old mother was even considering a tattoo or if she was convinced I would never act on this and she didn’t want to waste her time.

A few months ago I decided I would make this tattoo my retirement gift to myself.  I made my plan for while she was out of town; if she DID think I was pushing ahead, there might be lots and lots of questions and “in my face” stuff.  When I called the shop earlier in the week they said my idea was perfect for a “walk-in” appointment and that sometimes folks start lining up an hour before the shop opens.  I got there a bit after 11 with a book, an umbrella and my printed design, which included a couple of cards that YA has given me over the years that have her signature – I was the first one there and there was a bench!  By the time the shop opened, there were at least 12 folks in line behind me – including another baboon!!!

It didn’t hurt as much as I was expecting – although having your skin pierced is definitely noticeable, it was in fairly short bursts (4-5 second each) and about half way through, the area was getting a little numb and it didn’t hurt much at all. (In all fairness, I do have to say that for the next couple of hours, it stung quite a bit.)  And it didn’t take as long as I was expecting either – even with the different colors, it only took about 45 minutes. 

My artist was a young man named Tony.  He’s from the west coast and he has done art his whole life, including a lot of painting on his own; he started doing tattoo work a couple of years ago.  He has 7 siblings who are scattered, including one living in Thailand these days and he just did a tattoo for his oldest brother two weeks ago.  He was very pleasant and answered all my questions (and I had a lot).   He did a great job… it looks just like my design.  I knew going in that I didn’t want the design on the inside of my wrist and I let Tony guide me as to good placement – a little up on my air from the bend in my wrist.  I love it.

What was the last gift that you gave to yourself?

Do As I Say, Not As I Do

When we got our first Welsh Terrier in 1990, the breeder, who lived in Mankato, was dismayed to find out we were both psychologists, since psychologists, in her experience, were not good at being consistent and structured with their dogs. They allowed too many misbehaviors and were too concerned with the dogs’ feelings.

We now are on our fourth terrier, and I must admit the Mankato breeder has a point. I wonder why it took me 30 years to admit she was right. It has also made me realize that I have too high expectations for the parents I work with to be consistent and structured with their children, and that I can do a better job in helping them do that, rather than roll my eyes over their failed attempts at positive reinforcement. This training stuff is hard!

Terriers are all heart and intellect. Punishment doesn’t work with them. They also need clear rules and limits. Children are the same. One of the first things I noticed with our new dog was our inconsistent message to him about shoes. Husband has a pair of gardening shoes he dislikes, and has allowed our new puppy to chew, shake, and toss them. Now, we both are well trained in behavior theory, and know that it is impossible for our dog to discriminate between shoes we like and shoes we don’t like. This has led to Kyrill raiding our closets for any shoes he can find. All we can do is keep the closet doors shut and praise him when he drops the shoes he has stolen. It is hard to be positive in those situations, rather than angry.

It is often hard to explain to parents how important it is to praise their children where they are rather than punish them for what they fail to do. For example, if the most positive thing you can say to your child is “Thank you for not using the F word at breakfast” then that is where you are. It is hard for for me to praise the dog when he drops something I treasure, rather than yelling at him for stealing it in the first place.

This is the first dog we have had when we weren’t actively parenting children. I think that has made me more aware of what I am doing, rather than doing what was expedient to get things done at home. Live and learn, I guess. We all have feet of clay.

What do you preach but don’t practice? What is hard for you to admit? What new things do you want to learn?


I have lumbar scoliosis, along with years of cruddy posture. I even slump when I drive. I had physical therapy several years ago, which really helped my lower back pain. Like many, I stopped doing my exercises after the pain went away.

A few months ago I started to have chronic sciatica in both legs, and got a referral for more physical therapy. My new therapist assessed the situation and told me that she was surprised I could even walk, since all the muscles in my lower back and hips that ought to hold me upright weren’t doing their job, and the hip flexor muscles in the front of my body were doing it instead. Sitting at a desk all day in a bad chair only made things worse. (The ergo guy at work ordered a really good office chair with great lumbar support for me last month, so that problem is solved.)

I am currently in a lot of pain all over my back and legs since, as my physical therapist told, all my muscles are mad at me as we are doing exercises to get the back muscles to do their job and the front muscles to do their job. I am also being very mindful of my posture, even when I drive, and that has also stirred up some muscle pushback. All of this has reminded me of the Pushmepullyou from Dr. Doolittle.

My mother constantly harrased me about my posture. Ok mom, you were right! I should have listened! I don’t remember ever liking the Dr. Doolittle books much. I found the writing kind of stuffy, but the plot was fun. I appreciate the tug of war concept with the Pushmepullyou. My hips can relate.

What animals would you like to talk to? Ever had physical therapy? What did you parents tell you that you should have listened to but didn’t.


I was quite amused yesterday on my way to work to see our insurance agent presumably driving to his office. He was riding a motorcycle. HE WASN’T WEARING A HELMET!

It seems to me that being an insurance agent means you exemplify caution and careful living. I remember the conversation we had together with our son when he got his driver’s license, and our agent told him to never hesitate to phone him any time, night or day, if he had been drinking and needed a ride home. Well, I wonder what he says to young motorcycle drivers he insures about helmets?

Our agent goes to our church and has a lovely tenor voice and sings with us in the choir. I can hardly wait to tease him about this.

What do you like to tease people about? What irony have you noticed this week? Any stories about insurance agents or companies?


Husband and I spent four days last week in Fargo with our son and his family, joined for two days by our daughter. She was on a week long visit from Tacoma to friends in various parts of Minnesota. We picked her up in Alexandria on Friday. She hitched a ride back to the Minneapolis Airport on Sunday morning with her best friend who lives in Hopkins but who was in Moorhead visiting her sister. Her trip took a lot of planning!

Son booked an Airbnb with five bedrooms in the historic section of Fargo on 8th St. It is only the second time we stayed in such accommodations, our children far more accustomed to booking these lodgings. It really worked out well, especially since our 4 year old grandson was pretty happy not having to eat in restaurants and could run around and play and make more noise than he could in a hotel. We ordered out from our favorite Thai and East Indian restaurants, and son grilled lovely lamb kebobs on Saturday night. My only complaint was that our mattress was far too soft and gave me a backache.

Fargo was surprising, even after all these years of living in this State. We went to the downtown farmers market on Saturday. It was wonderful, and we scored some fresh, local sweetcorn. There are very few places in North Dakota where you would see many gay couples walking around in public holding hands, but there they were, happy as they could be among the produce stalls. It was also far more ethnically diverse than I remember it being in years past. It was so nice to see.

I imagine there are Airbnb nightmares, but ours worked out swell. We will more than likely do it again, but will have our children help us figure out how to choose them.

What are your Airbnb experiences? What cities have pleasantly surprised you? Where are your favorite places to visit?

July is Corn Month

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

They say July is corn month and August is Soybean month. Because July is the critical time in corn development, while it’s August for soybeans.

The corn has tasseled so it’s full height now, the silks are out, GDU’s, while down a bit this week with the cooler weather (which I love by the way) are 1714, 104 above normal.

I’m still mowing weeds, but I expect by the time you read this I will have finished. Or, if not exactly “finished”, given up and quit. The one area I’ve got left to mow is really rough and I will get tired of bouncing around in the cab.

All the crops are looking good, and while I was thinking I’d be cutting oats next Monday or Tuesday, looking at it Thursday shows a lot of green kernels yet so I may wait out next week yet.

The storms last Saturday knocked some oats down and in one field I saw some corn lodged on the edge of the field.

 (“lodging” is basically stalk failure) Oats, As the plant is green and growing it has a lot of give. But as it matures, dries up, and turns golden, the stalk loses its flexibility, meaning it will break off in the wind. And it’s odd, how only certain parts of the fields will do that. Wind is very curious, as the songs from last week’s blog showed. 

You can see from the pictures, only one part of the field went down, while the rest didn’t. And the green weeds still stand up. It’s all interesting.

We got nearly 2” of rain Saturday afternoon and then another .6” Saturday night. Kelly and I drove around in the gator checking on things after the afternoon storm. No trees down at least. And then we found a mama duck and 9 ducklings. Once again, Kelly is wrangling ducklings and I’m pointing and offering unsolicited advice.

Using a fishing net, she captured just about all the ducklings and I could get them in a box. But they’re tiny and a few escaped the net. She chased them down and we cleaned up a side pen for them. Now, just to catch mama. I remember one other year we did this; the mama could track the squeaking of the ducklings and we put up a ramp and eventually she got in there with them for a happy reunion. That wasn’t working this year and Kelly eventually captured her with the net too. Kelly and mama duck were in the pen and I was out in the gator. I heard some noises, and honking, and the doors wiggled a few times, and the mama got her head out the door once. But they’re all together now. We’ll keep them in here for a month or so. Until they’re big enough to survive outside… and we’ll see what happens.

A neighbor about ½ mile cross country from us said he saw two bear cubs playing on a log in his pond the other morning. Some neighbors have seen bears before, and we always assumed they were just passing through. But cubs… I don’t know, that seems like mama bear must be settled in here. Just what we need; another predator. I think it would be cool to see a bear. Long as it’s not eating the chickens. Do bears eat chickens??

CoCoRaHS – Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, And Snow network is an organization I heard about a few years ago.

Every day I report how much rain we’ve gotten. Some people report snow depth, and some people have full-fledged weather stations. I just report rain with some minor details like last Saturday’s amount in the afternoon and the evening. It is interesting to me to compare rain events in our area. There are about 14 reporting stations in the Rochester area, and three within a few miles of us. It’s interesting how the rain amounts can vary between us. I got a certificate for 250 reporting observations.

I’ve talked about the barn swallows outside our front door and the nest they’ve had for several years. Well, must be new residents this time around and they do not like us coming and going and they dive bomb us. Even at my car, 20’ from the nest they’re buzzing my head. We keep telling them “It’s us! You know us!”


Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright

When we were working on Nonny’s library loan issue, YA discovered a shelf of jigsaw puzzles right next to the desk.  The St. Louis Library system loans out puzzles!  (I immediately chatted w/ someone at the Hennepin County Library to see if puzzles are in our system – sadly no.)  I love the idea of borrowing puzzles from the library.  I only like to do puzzles once so not only do I have to find another home for a finished puzzle, the cost starts to mount up.  YA and I could easily do a puzzle a week (except for the occasional killer puzzle like the polar bear last year). 

We looked through the puzzles and chose a tiger in repose in a jungle setting with lots of tropical flowers and a waterfall – and it was a glitter puzzle!  Since it was a rainy afternoon, YA and Nonny and I dived right in when we got back to the condo.

I learned puzzle-doing at Nonny’s knee so we do puzzles the same: edge pieces first and then tackling the inner part.  YA doesn’t care about getting the edges done first, so she just digs right in.  I tend to look for shapes that fit; YA looks for color/design.  Nonny and I worked on the border while YA started with the tropical flowers.

YA is intense when she is doing a puzzle.  She does NOT like to stop; we did the glitter tiger in 4 hours.  Nonny sat back and watched for awhile and when we got toward the end, I gave her one of the pieces so she could finish the puzzle.  She resisted at first, but then gave in.  A very satisfying afternoon.

Two of the friends that I usually swap puzzles with have moved so I think I need to start a new puzzle-sharing co-op or something!

Do you have a favorite tiger song or poem?

Nonny & the Library

The Nonny Reading Program has been going swimmingly.  Using the suggestions from you all, I’ve been sending her books and she’s been gobbling them up.

There are only two problems.  The first (and most important) is that she has a VERY small condo with almost no bookshelf space, so the books are starting to pile up.  Secondly, she’s starting to complain about how much money I’m spending and wants to pay for the books (this is SO not happening).

I solved the first problem when I suggested she donate the books to her church; they have quite a robust food shelf/donations program and I said they should start a little free library.  Her church-mates ate this up.

The second problem was a little stickier.  A lot of people who know both my parents think that I got my stubborn streak from my dad; this is absolutely not true.  When Nonny digs in her heels she is all but immovable.   We talked about the library (the closest branch is quite close to her place) but she said that whenever she goes, she can’t find the books she wants.

I know that technology could help her but unfortunately Nonny and Technology are not friends.  And they are not likely to become friends.  Ever.  I suggested that I request the books she wants via the computer and when they came available, I would get the email and I would let her know and she could go get them.  She said this was fine but she never gave me her library card number so I could get everything set up, despite my asking her repeatedly.  I was starting to think this was her passive/aggressive way to telling me she didn’t want to do this.

I tackled the dragon in her den when we were there last weekend.  I asked her directly if she really wanted to do this.  Turns out that the library card issue was just Nonny forgetting about it as soon as we got off the phone.  We drove up to the library, I explained my plan to the librarian and within minutes it was all set up.  I can access her account from here and let her know when the books come in.  Easy peasy. 

I’m all set now and will be requesting the first couple of books this week.   No new suggestions needed right now but if this system works out, I may need some soon!

Have you ever lost or destroyed (accidentally of course) a library book?