Category Archives: Family

Fat Bombs

I’m not hugely adventuresome when it comes to food.  Once I find something I like, I tend to stick to it.  Almond Butter Granola Waffle at Black Coffee & Waffle.  Vegetarian Reuben at Pub 42.  Blueberry Pancake at Lowbrow.  Quattro Formaggio at Punch.  It’s not that I’m afraid to try something new, it’s just that I can’t imagine not having my favorite in that moment.  There are a few things I’ll always try: tiramisu, sticky toffee pudding, anything made with macadamia nuts.

Although Hawaii is not the actual birthplace of the macadamia nut (and isn’t even the world’s largest producer of the nut), the 50th state has certainly taken the macadamia to heart.  I will say that every time I’ve traveled to Hawaii – I work hard to make it worth their while.  And the restaurants on Oahu and Maui did not disappoint this trip.

I learned to love macadamia nuts for breakfast years ago.  I was breakfasting with clients and the hotel sales person when I discovered coconut syrup on the waffle bar, along with chopped macadamia nuts.  Can we say “heavenly”?  I know in this global economy I can easily get nuts and syrup but I never get around to it so I was really looking forward to loading up on fat bombs (what a friend dubbed macadamia nuts long ago).

Our very first morning in Oahu, we hiked about 15 blocks to Eggs `n Things:

We had a great table out on the balcony, looking over a pretty park and they served me the Fresh Fruit Rainbow Pancake.  With macadamia nuts.  The photo is in the header above.  It was delicious and outrageous – how can anybody eat that much in one sitting?  Well, I showed them how it was done.  It was a good things we had a lot of walking to do that day.

We went to a different breakfast spot every day of our trip and I found pancakes with macadamia nuts every time – but only found coconut syrup once.  Aaaah well, the vicissitudes of travel!

Anything you can eat meal after meal?

The Rental

When we were planning our trip to Hawaii, we were using “award credits” from our company.  YA had quite a few and I had a small fortune, all of which had to be used within a certain amount of time after my retirement before I would lose them.  This made it easy to plan things that would have seemed atrociously expensive if it were coming out of my checking account (and have I mentioned how expensive everything is in Hawaii).  

Adding a rental car on Maui was a no-brainer.  It’s a 45-minute drive from the airport area to the two major resorts areas (Lahaina/Ka’anapali in one direction, Wailea in the other).  Even getting around once you are in the resort areas isn’t all that easy.  No sidewalks, no buses, a few rare shuttles and extremely expensive Ubers. As YA was scrolling through rental cars on the award credit site, she was looking for small, inexpensive models.  When I said “get a convertible” she just about fell off the bed.  When did her mother EVER advocate for something more expensive?  But there is backstory.

I’ve been is the islands many times over the past 30 years for work.  Yes, work.  And my job, even in paradisical places like Maui, was work.  Early on, I decided that one of the ways I would take care of myself was a convertible.  Usually it turned out to be cheaper than private transfers but while I used that as my “excuse”, the main reason was that for the day or so that I had on my own before clients showed up, I had the sun on my face and the wind in my hair.  In addition, Maui (and the Big Island) are fabulous for someone who is directionally challenged… so few roads!

When we got to the rental car center at the Maui airport, they sent us down to the big parking lot, saying “turn right and pick your convertible”.  There were three to choose from, all three white Ford Mustangs.  Easy peasy, right?  The two gals who had met us, helped get the luggage into the first car and said their goodbyes.  YA was hanging back as I got into the driver’s seat and then suggested that we “look at the other cars”.  I’m not at my best on travel days and I certainly didn’t see what there was to look at; they all looked identical to me.  She was adamant however and after poking through all three models, she announced that the farthest one was bigger inside and had leather seats.  Despite some whining on my part, I let her move the luggage to the bigger/leather interior.  I figured if the rental car company didn’t care which one we took, I shouldn’t care either.

I can’t tell you if this was a better car but it made YA happy and as we rounded the first hill on the West Maui Mountain Highway, coming upon the sun shining on the water, it made me happy as well.  This is why you want a convertible on Maui:

How do you keep your hair from getting mussed with the windows open or the top down?

Revolutions

Today’s post comes from Ben.

The end of another year, pretty fitting that it happens on the last day of the week. It just fits the calendar so nicely and it feels so right that the last day of the year, the last day of the month, also ends on the last day of the week. And then we begin another month, another week, another year on the first day of the week. No open squares, it just all seems better that way.

The end of the year, all the old hackneyed, banal phrases of closing out another chapter, turning the page, another chance to try it again. But they still apply.

On the farm I will collect mileage from all the vehicles and the hours on the tractors and the lawnmower, the four-wheeler, the gator, and even the total gallons on the diesel barrel pump. I put all the data in my spreadsheet to compare with the other years. (At one point I believe we had to report the mileage to our accountant and there must’ve been a deduction for farm mileage or something. Now it’s just all under the standard deduction but I have always enjoyed keeping track of things like that). I also have our farm balance sheet that I will spend the next month working on.  It’s fun for me; I like compiling the data and seeing the changes, adding pretty colors, and formatting it. 

During 2022, I kept track of how many dozens of eggs I moved out of the house. It was easier keeping track of the dozens going out then it was the eggs coming in. The last few weeks I haven’t actually moved very many, so counting the eight dozen I have on the counter now, I moved 320 dozen eggs. That’s kind of impressive. That’s 3480 eggs. Which averages 10 eggs per day for an entire year. Back in October I only moved about 10 dozen, while between March and August it was upwards of 30 per month. If you count all the chickens around here, which is somewhere between 40 and 50, 10 eggs per day doesn’t seem like enough. I never said I was looking for efficiency, I’ve always said it was a chicken retirement farm.

I’ve also been getting crop inputs finalized for next year. Prepaid some fertilizer, locked in prices on some other products, and finalizing my seed orders. It’s discouraging that fertilizer and chemicals are as expensive this year as last. Hope for another good year of crop production and prices. I expect prices will have to crash and we’ll all take a loss one year before things will come down again.

A lot of the stuff we do before the end of the calendar year so that I can take the financial expense this year. There’s also typically a discount on pricing when you order sooner. My seed company discount goes until mid-January, and I expect to be driving again by then so I will get that done at that point. We paid off all of this year‘s crop loans, paid off another small loan on my truck, and paid a good chunk of an operating loan. Also, at the end of the year the equity checks come in from the various co-ops that we belong to. March 2023 will be 19 years since I sold the milk cows. The dairy co-op that we sold to, AMPI,  has a 20 year payback on their equity and so for the last 18 years I’ve been getting a check for a few hundred dollars from the dairy co-op even though there has not been a milk cow on the farm. The check this year was for $200. There’s $2.48 remaining in my equity.  Seems to me it would’ve made more sense to just add it on too this year‘s check. But whatever, one more check from the milk cows. 

We are all glad the weather has finally warmed up. The ducks finally got out of the pond and actually came back up in the yard. Chickens, squirrels, pheasants, and lots of birds are out and about and enjoying it. The show has melted off the deck so I can go out there and walk around a bit.

I am getting along very well on my knew knee. (Gnu G-knee!) And the 37 staples were removed from the incision on Thursday. The doctor gave me a good report. A few days prior to that Kelly took me out for a ride in the gator, it was just nice to get out of the house. She even took me over to the shop and I got up in the tractors. Just to say I could. Again, after all the trouble I had the spring and summer, I didn’t really think this would stop me, but it still felt good to get in there. I sort of expect to be driving again this weekend and I may have to take over snow clearing duties soon.

Prior to the surgery I had to remove the two earrings that I wear. I asked daughter to put them in. She doesn’t have pierced ears, and she’s never done earrings before and I thought this would be good practice for her. As a guy, I can’t get them in myself, I generally ask Kelly. Daughter got one in and Kelly got the second one.

Years ago when I was giving a farm tour to some elementary school kids, a little girl asked me about the ear tags that I put in the calves ears. I was kneeling down and face-to-face with her and I told her it was like getting your ears pierced. I have a very vivid memory of her looking to my ears at the same moment I Iooked to hers. I had earrings, she didn’t and I thought to myself, this is a fascinating little discussion and I wondered if she’s going to go home and ask to get her ears pierced.

One of the movies I watched this week was ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’.  One of those movies I’ve heard about and seen bits of, but never seen the whole thing. I enjoyed it. I also watched ‘All That Jazz’ for the 349th time. I was home alone so I had it loud to make it the best it could be. And I picked some new bits out of it. I never get tired of that movie. 

MAKE A NEW YEAR RESOLUTION FOR SOMEBODY ELSE.

TALK ABOUT GETTING YOUR EARS (OR BODY) PIERCED.

Cone Head

Kyrill, our Cesky Terrier pup, was neutered on Tuesday. He was really good at leaving his incision alone at the Vet Office, but started licking it once we got him home, so I got a cone from the vet.

Kyrill hates it. It is made even more awkward by his shape. Kyrill has a long snout, so he needs a good sized cone to keep that long snout away from the incision. His legs are really short, though, so unless he holds his head up high, the cone drags on the floor. The cone also pushes away or obscures things he wants to pick up. This makes eating and drinking difficult.

We tried a soft cone that looks like a life preserver, but it wasn’t wide enough and allowed access to the incision.

I considered a dog recovery suit just for this purpose, but I couldn’t find one in town, and if I ordered one, it would take too long to get here. I also didn’t relish the idea of wrestling him into an infant onesie every time he needed to go outside. We can’t crate him easily with the cone on, so he hangs with us and looks miserable. We hope for quick healing so the cone can go away.

What are your experiences with the cone of shame? How do your animals handle being under the weather?

Any Port In A Storm

I was delighted to read the story of the New York dentist and his wife who welcomed ten Korean tourists into their home after their van was stuck in the snow. They found beds for them, and they spent the storm cooking Korean dishes and watching football. What generous hospitality!

https://news.yahoo.com/10-south-korean-tourists-were-030651951.html

I figure with the Twin size air mattress and we have in the basement we could sleep nine extra people pretty comfortably. We have fourteen bed pillows and lots of sheets and blankets (Don’t ask. It is German thing) so there would be sufficient bedding. Our freezers are full, and we could certainly feed ten people for days. Being prepared for such an occurrence certainly speaks to keeping a well stocked stocked wine rack!

How many people could you accommodate in a pinch? What would you feed them? Tell of some weather bound experiences you may have had.

Winter with a knew knee!

Today’s post comes from Ben.

Boy, If I was gonna pick a week to stay inside, last week was the week to choose. Although 5 months ago when we set this up, I wasn’t expecting this weather yet. I think there’s some record of the second week of February being historically the coldest. I do remember February 1996. Daughter was born in 1995 and that February she was in the NICU with a bad cold. Kelly spent nights there with her. I was still milking cows and doing chores and it was -42° one morning. That’s the coldest I remember. An owl spent the night in the garage it was so cold. And some yahoo went 4-wheeling with his truck in one of our fields and got stuck and came into the barn looking for help. I wasn’t very nice to him, but I did pull him out. Eventually.

This cold weather is also a helpful remind that I didn’t turn all the heat on in the house this fall when it first got cold. Because we have electric heat, all the rooms have thermostats and individual breakers. I turn them all off in the summer. When it started getting chilly, I turned on some of them. They’re not all labeled, so I only turned on what I thought were the important ones.

Then later we started saying ‘It sure is cold in the living room’ forgetting that I hadn’t turned everything on. Until last week. I managed to get my knew knee (I know that’s wrong, I just enjoy the alliteration) down to the basement for several things, including going in to check that breaker panel and oh. Yea. Only about half are on. We don’t use the basement for much, so I set those all to about 50° and turned on all the heaters. Boy, there’s nothing like the smell of dust burning off a heater.

Got my grade for Meteorology class. ‘A’. I don’t take classes spring semester; too much other stuff going on.

The ducks are spending all their time in the pond with this cold weather. Maybe to stay warm, maybe to keep it from freezing. It has shrunk up a little bit as the stream of water coming into it is pretty light. We seem to have picked up a couple stray ducks. One flies away when Kelly approaches, but there’s still an extra in the pond too. Alumni? Possible. And the chickens don’t have much interest in coming out of the coop either. Kelly opens the doors and throws out corn for them. But no Thanks. We’re fine. They do have water, corn, and egg layer ration in the pens. No reason to come out if they don’t want too. The guineas come out a bit further, but even they don’t go far.

I’m getting around pretty well on the knee. Better than I would have expected at this point. It’s still uncomfortable due to some swelling, and it’s still all sorts of colors. I get a little stiff in the shin and calf. Takes a few steps to get the muscles and tendons loose and moving. Using a cane 50% of the time and walker 25% and nothing 25%.

I’ve hit the BDDT phase of recovery. ‘bored, discouraged, depressed, and tired’. Hard to sleep at night just cause I have a hard time getting comfortable. And eventually, lack of sleep just makes me grumpy. But I’m surviving!

Did you know there is drone racing on TV?? On NBC! With fancy lighting. And drones, which I don’t care so much for, but the lighting is cool. Found a lot of old B&W movies on these new TV channels (new to us. Something called ‘Pluto TV’ which I haven’t quite got all figured out). Jack Lemmon in ‘Operation Mad Ball’. Spencer Tracey in ‘The Last Hurrah’ (with Basil Rathbone and John Carradine. Man, what a long face he has! And he sure could scowl!) ’12 Angry Men’ and things like ‘The Professional’, and several versions of Pink Panther movies. Plus, ‘St. Vincent’ on Netflix. Highly recommended.

Kelly continues to be my rock star. Not only doing all her work, but my work too. She really has never liked cold weather, so extra accolades on her for getting up early and going out to collect eggs and feed everybody. The day she spilled water into her boot I thought she’d quit. But she’s almost starting to enjoy driving the tractor and plowing snow. Almost.

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH A WEEK STUCK INSIDE?

Christmas Cheer

Yesterday was possibly the worst Christmas Day we have ever had, as all the things that could have gone wrong with Daughter’s flights home went wrong. Our weather in ND was awful, with snow, sleet, a Winter Weather Advisory, and then an Alberta Clipper with a High Wind Warning. Her flight from Denver was cancelled. To make matters worse, her flight from SeaTac to Denver was four hours late due to technical problems, and they allowed anyone at SeaTac who missed a connecting flight to depart the plane with their luggage. The cost and uncertainty and anxiety in rescheduling was too much for all of us, so she had a friend drive her back to her apartment in Tacoma. We will try to have her fly here for Easter. It is in early April. I know we have April blizzards, but this gives us some hope.

Daughter was as brave as could be, waiting on the plane for four hours. She would have had a couple of days waiting around in the Denver airport for a flight here, but that would have been too sentimental a decision. It was a tearful decision, but I am glad she is at her home in Tacoma. I will send her cookies and lefse and her presents.

When was your first Christmas alone? What are some good Christmas jokes? I need some humor!

Ready?

We finally got out of the house yesterday to buy some groceries. The weather had been so awful we didn’t want to venture out until Friday afternoon. I think the whole town got to the store the same time I did. It was crazy busy, and I saw one ribeye roast after another being handed out at the meat counter. Grocery shelves have been pretty bare due to the interstate being closed and trucks unable to deliver to the stores. Anyone planning a large family gathering for Christmas must have been stressed and panicky not being able to get things from the stores.

Our daughter will arrive at our local airport tomorrow night around 9:00. We are traditionally Christmas Eve people, going to church, celebrating with our big meal, and opening presents and calling it a night. This year our Christmas dinner will be on Boxing Day, and we agreed that presents will be simple and few. The bathroom remodel is at a standstill until the flooring arrives and workers can get here from Bismarck. Our home isn’t the tidiest right now, and there isn’t much we can do about it until the construction is done.

The most important thing for us now is to get our daughter home, and to just hang out together for the week. I am not so concerned with having everything done at the proper time than I am at having a less stressful holiday. Our tree is up but not yet decorated. We will do that on Monday. The Christmas baking is done. We will spend the week cooking our favorite foods and taking naps.

Are you a Christmas Eve or Christmas Day person? How do you manage holiday pressure and stress? Tell of some of your more memorable holiday gatherings.

The Best Laid Plans

Plan A: This plan originated in September, when Daughter purchased her tickets for a flight home for Christmas. She would leave Seattle/Tacoma on December 22, fly to MPLS, have a nice long layover, and fly into Bismarck at 11:00 PM. We would pick her up that night and take her home.

Plan B: This plan originated late last week when I saw that we were to have patchy blowing snow the night of the 22nd, and the wind chill was predicted to be -51. Daughter decided that she would spend the night of the 22nd in Mandan with the mother of her childhood best friend, and we would pick her up on Friday, when the snow was predicted to stop blowing.

Plan C: This plan emerged after Daughter saw that the weather was going to be a little snowy in MPLS, and that, if her flight to Bismarck was cancelled, she would stay with a friend in the Cities. Alternatively, if the friend couldn’t get to the airport to pick her up, she would stay in a hotel close to the airport. With either option, she would hope to get to Bismarck on the 23rd.

Plan D: By Sunday, Daughter started to panic, and thought that she wouldn’t get out of Seattle/Tacoma because there was a snow storm predicted on the 22nd, and there had already been many cancelled flights after only 1/2 inch of snow. She planned to prepare herself for being stuck in Tacoma.

Plan E: This plan emerged in the wee hours of Tuesday after Daughter saw the terrible storm predictions for MPLS. After convincing herself that she wasn’t being impulsive, she cancelled her reservations for the 22nd, and rebooked herself on another airline for the 25th that would take her to Denver, and thence directly to Dickinson by 9:00 PM. The weather and winds in Denver and Dickinson are predicted to be manageable on the 25th. She didn’t book this sort of flight in the first place because she really dislikes the Denver Airport.

What is your plan B? Have your thoughts about winter travel changed at all over the years? What is your opinion of John Steinbeck?

Trending

On Saturday I texted a friend the following:

Bruce, are you aware that the photo of your grandfather weeping at the signing away of the land for the dam was circulating on Reddit today? Here is the photo. It was taken in 1948 when the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation in North Dakota was pressured into signing away their land for what ultimately became the Garrison Dam.

My son tipped me off to this on Saturday morning, being aware of North Dakota history and the family history of our friend. 70,000 people had already viewed the photo by then. Another friend of mine who had no idea about my connection to the family also posted the photo on Facebook.

Bruce had no idea what Reddit was, and hoped it wasn’t a bad thing. I told him it wasn’t, and that he should let his grandchildren know, as they would understand how it worked and could help him navigate the site and see the photo and the comments.

I don’t know if I would take kindly to my family history to be trending on social media. This blog and Facebook are the only two social media platforms I belong to, and I rarely post anything on Facebook. I just keep it to stay connected to people I know who I rarely get to see.

Have you every been trendy? What social media platforms do you belong to? Have you ever visited any of the large dams built in the western US for water and land management?