Category Archives: Kids

Bonding over Books

This morning at the library, as I was picking up my held books, I overheard a budding friendship in the next aisle over. Two five-year olds had an extended conversation about what books they were getting, visiting their grandparents, puppies and like all good Minnesotans, the weather.

I met my best friend on April 16, 1983, in a small room 4 floors below the IDS Center. It was my first day at the soon-to-be-opened B. Dalton IDS. Since I was new to B. Dalton, there were several training modules that I had to read through and then take corresponding tests. Sara was transferring over from another store and needed to do some paperwork as well.  We talked while we worked, about books and pets and husbands and boyfriends – probably the weather as well.  Then we went to lunch across the street at Eddingtons where we discovered we also shared a deep love of bread and cheese.

We’ve been friends ever since, through weddings, divorces, parents’ deaths, kids, home purchases, health issues, money issues – you name it. I can only hope that the kids at the library this morning can continue a friendship that started with books!

Where did you meet your BFF?


Today’s post comes from tim.

I watched a lot of Turner classic movies over memorial day weekend about World War II issues

when my dad was alive I used to wonder how he could sit and watch all that army stuff and cowboy stuff and get amazes me how today I love the cowboy stop in the army stuff

simple storyline and the bottom line solution to the issue of how to deal with the challenge seems to be the reoccurring theme that is the attraction

I think today about how different the kids in high school are that they were when I was in high school and I remember my dad thinking how different the kids were in high school that they were when he was in high school also

Tom Brokaw wrote the book the greatest generation and I read and enjoyed it but didn’t fully appreciate the big picture

today’s 80 and 90 something are from the pre-television era when you had to find a way to amuse yourself and occupy your brain

what a person came up with was all you needed to know about that person
engineer brain, artist? go tinker with stuff in the workshop? read a book and write a book
the way a chosen lifestyle came into being was different dad that it is today.
or is it?

and it was pointed out to me once that baby boomers  like to talk on the phone,generation X likes to work by email and the youngsters today like to work by text

my dad’s dad used to get the car and drive over to someone’s house and sit and have coffee with them

My dad booked someone for lunch every day to enjoy conversation I’m talking about life.
those mornings breakfast groups at the coffee shop with the old codgers solving the problems of the world were his greatest joy as his world came to an end.

the greatest generation is almost gone . 5 more years will whittle em down 10 more will finish it

each group has its own style. clyde and steve and margeret are between the greatest and the boomers

boomers are of course the best then they are followed by xyz millennial and my youngest daughters group who will be here for 2020 as young adults

the world had interesting as part of the deal going back a while but now feels different

do they really not get it?
can’t they see my way is right?
if you do you only had 48 hours to live how would you wrap it up?
what is the set of priorities that’s important to you?

A Special Gift

Today’s post comes to us from Steve.

Robert was a painter whose wife, Donna, was his agent. Donna contacted me when I was editing a regional outdoors magazine. Robert hoped my magazine would publish a painting that he would create to my specifications. Although Robert had never painted wildlife before, the February, 1978, issue of Fins and Feathers featured a bobcat painted by Robert.

I later asked Robert to paint the cover for my first book, Modern Pheasant Hunting, which was just about to be published. Because Robert didn’t know what pheasants looked like, I invited him and his family for dinner so I could give him a pheasant taxidermy mount to use as a model. That dinner happened in September of 1979. My wife and I were in our third year of living in a pink bungalow in Saint Paul. Our daughter, a chatty toddler, had just turned two.

Robert and Donna were then living in a dinky rental home in South Minneapolis. Although Donna was ferociously romantic about Christmas, their home didn’t offer enough room to put up a scrawny Christmas tree. Robert, a freelance painter, had a meager and erratic income. He and Donna had not felt secure enough to take on a home mortgage.

In some ways, our dinner was “typical,” typical for how we entertained in those days. We served wine—not a “good” wine, for that would have been beyond our means, but a frisky dry white from Napa. I cooked the pheasant casserole that had become one of my signature dishes when guests dined with us. My wife prepared a side dish of wild rice with mushrooms and sliced almonds sautéed in butter.

Because we dined on a crisp night in September, we set a fire in the big fireplace. The old bungalow glowed and filled with the fragrance of burning oak. Robert described his experiences as a combat artist in Vietnam. I probably talked too much about pheasants. Brandy and Brinka, our dogs at the time, wriggled in next to us when we sat on the soft carpets before the fire.

Our dinner happened on a Friday evening. On Monday morning, quite unexpectedly, Robert appeared at my office with an object wrapped in paper. He thrust it in my hands, mumbled something and disappeared.

The gift—for that is what it was—was a watercolor Robert had made of my taxidermy rooster. Robert had painted it in one long, passionate session over the weekend. The painting included squiggly lines on the lower right side where Robert had cleaned his brush when going from one color to another.

On the lower left side Robert had written a message, a note to our daughter. He described the magic meal we shared when she was very young. Robert said he and Donna would never forget that special evening.


I later learned more about that. Robert and Donna were bowled over by the feel of our shared evening. It all blended together—the wine, the talk, the food, the charm of a 75-year-old bungalow, the dancing fire. By the time Robert and Donna got home they had decided to buy a home.

We had dreams, or at least the adults present that evening did. The dreams did not fare well, although Robert and Donna did buy an old Victorian home in South Minneapolis. My wife was going to get her PhD and teach English, but she never did. Robert anticipated a satisfying career as an artist, although that never happened as he pictured it. While I was thrilled by my work as an editor, that dream died in a long, sorry struggle. Worse, both marriages eventually failed. I don’t know what became of Robert and Donna’s children. I don’t know what will happen to the little girl to whom the painting was dedicated, although a splendid outcome is still entirely possible for her.

That’s how it goes. I could dwell on the ways our dreams unraveled, but I don’t. I remember a lovely aromatic evening when everything seemed possible. This is easy to remember because Robert’s pheasant and its heartfelt message are on my wall, and I smile to see them every day.

Do you remember a special gift?


Pack Rat Cat

We have a large throw rug in our entry way  that is soon to be replaced.  The rubber backing has disintegrated and it crumples up easily.  I shook out the throw rug on Saturday and was surprised to find a number of things that had gone missing  under the rug crumples.  I found the stylus for Husband’s cell phone, several twist ties for bread bags that had disappeared from the counter, and a couple of pens.  How did they get there?

Millie, our Tortie cat, loves to knock things off of tables and counters and bat them on the laminate floor.  They spin so wonderfully, and if you bat them to the throw rugs you can hide them under the rugs and then stick your paws under the rugs and fish them out again.  Since Mom and Dad are tired of smoothing out the throw rug,  treasures can stay there for quite a while.

We have a jar of twist ties in the kitchen that I used to keep on the counter. Millie loved to fish them out of the jar and bat them all over the house. Now they are in the cupboard.  Once, in the middle of the night, I heard her sliding something in the hall, and found her trying to put Husband’s glasses under the rug.  What a great kitty game! She is never bored.

What games do your animals play? What games did you like as a child?






Sharing Spaces

I got a credit collection call today asking for “Jane”. When YA was younger and still needed daycare and after-school care, I rented out a room in my house to cover the costs.  Over the years I had a variety of housemates, some great experiences (still friends with Fredrick) and some sad (Dawn passed away a year after she lived here) and some just downright weird.

My first suspicion that Jane was a little on the weird side was the day she moved in. We had agreed on the day; I had told her I would be home about 5. When I arrived home, her car was parked in the driveway and she was asleep in the front seat.  I knocked on the window, she rolled down the window, said she’s be in shortly.  Then she went back to sleep and didn’t come in until 2 hours later.

She wanted to set up a weekly house meeting which I resisted; that’s too formal for my taste. Our dog, Katy Scarlet, didn’t like her.  She was estranged from her adult daughter but wouldn’t tell me why.  She never got a job, although she talked about looking quite a bit.  When she’d been living at the house for about 5 months, she told me she would have to travel to Colorado for something and due to a previous legal problem, she might be arrested and have to spend a couple of months there.  She never went to Colorado.  Then at the 6-month mark, massive numbers of forwarded pieces of mail started showing up for her.  One day I counted 44 of them and this went on for about 3 weeks.  She never explained.  Did I mention the dog didn’t like her?

At the 9-month mark, she made coffee in her little coffee pot and then left about an inch of coffee in the pot for days on end, never cleaning it. I asked her about it a few times and she always said “Oh, sorry, I’ll get to it today” but never did.  When the coffee had completely dried up, she moved the pot to the top of the refrigerator.  At this point I told her that things weren’t working out and that she’s need to find another place.  She didn’t argue.  The day she moved out, I took the ratty coffee pot and set it on top of one of her boxes.  She moved it to the counter.  I carried it out and put it in her car. After that day I never saw her again or even heard from her.

The credit collection calls began about 6 months after she moved out. These calls came from Colorado, Arizona, California and also here in Minnesota.  And the callers asked for her under a variety of names, although they were all a variation on “Jane”. They did slow down and then trickle off but over the years I’ve probably gotten 50 of these calls.  Today’s call was almost exactly 22 years since she moved out.

Tell me about a “colorful” housemate/roommate that you’ve had.

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring – We All Fall Down

It’s raining and thundering right now. The Irish Setter is burrowing into me on the bed, shaking and panting.  The shepherd mix is also on the bed, eyeing the other dog carefully.  As soon as the setter moves, the shepherd jumps up to police the situation.

What did your parents tell you about lighting and thunder when you were a kid?

An Oma in the Kitchen

In May, 1914, my widowed, maternal great grandmother, Metta Sophie Bartels, left her small village near Bremen, Germany with  her four teenage daughters, teenage son, and one son in his early 20’s, and immigrated to Fulda, MN, where her father and siblings all had immigrated.  Her oldest son had inherited the Bartels family farm upon his father’s death.  One other son, my grandfather, had been drafted into the German army. He was discharged in July, 1914 because of flat feet, and he immediately left Germany for Minnesota. (It is rather humbling to know that I owe my existence to flat feet).

Metta was called “Oma”, a German term for grandma.  My mother had very fond memories of her. She remembered her as a kind and gentle presence in her life.  Oma lived with her children and helped them with their families as they married and had their own children. She was a hard worker. My mother remembers the time Oma broke her right arm, which was her dominant arm.  My mother said, “Oma just hoed the garden with her other hand”.   Oma died in 1947. The photo is of her prior to immigrating.

We now have a grandchild.  Husband and I thought pretty hard about what names we wanted to be called by our grandson.  Our daughter-in-law’s parents will be Grandma and Grandpa. My maternal grandmother was called “Umie”,  a diminutive for “Oma”.  Umie was interesting but rather difficult to live with, so I didn’t want that name.  For rather hard to explain reasons, Husband will be Grandpa Dazzle. I could be “Grandma Boom” because of my last name, Boomgaarden. That name, however, belongs forever to my paternal grandmother, a short, wild little person who drove really fast and cheated at cards.  I decided that I want to be called Oma.

We visited our son and DIL a week after the birth of their son.  While at their home I cooked and froze two soups (Bremer Huhnersuppe and Chicken Chipotle Chower), lasagna, four loaves of French bread, and a loaf of lemon poppy seed bread. I also cleaned out all their kitchen cupboards and drawers. Who has time for that with a newborn?  My grateful son said “Every  home needs an Oma in the kitchen”. I was glad to be of help.

What kind of help has benefited you the most?  What help have you given that has been the most helpful.  Have you ever had a nickname?”