Category Archives: Kids

Rome, Prague, or Sioux Falls

We are planning a Christmas holiday in Brookings, South Dakota this year. Son and Daughter in Law will host in their new home. We will drive from western North Dakota, and daughter will fly to Sioux Falls from Tacoma.

Daughter texted me in exasperation last week to inform me that she could fly much cheaper to Prague or Rome than she can to Sioux Falls. That is the sad state of airfare costs in the Dakotas. where flights cost an arm and a leg if you fly out of the secondary hubs of Sioux Falls, Bismarck, Fargo, or Rapid City.

Well, I would rather be in Prague, too, but family is in Brookings, and that is where we will be. We will help daughter with her airfare so she won’t be out so much money. This made me think of what Christmas in Rome or Prague would be like, and something for us to think about in the next couple of years.

Where was the farthest from home you ever spent the holidays ? Ever been to Prague or Rome? If you planned a trip over the holidays, where would you go? Got any good stories about Sioux Falls?

52 Loaves

Clyde sent me a reading recommendation – 52 Loaves: One Man’s Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust by Wiliam Alexander.  It’s the year-long journey of a man trying to make the perfect loaf of bread.

I was a bit leery.  I’ve read quite a few of these “set yourself a journey” books in the last few years.  Wild by Cheryl Strayed, Julie & Julia by Julie Powell, Tolstoy & the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch – to name a few.  While mostly enjoyable, it started to feel like a fad to set yourself a year-long challenge and then write a book about it. And I was a little worried that after about 8 weeks of bread baking, I’d be ready to toss the book in a 550-degree oven.   But I’ve never gotten an unsatisfactory reading recommendation from Clyde (well, except for that Death by Rhubarb), so I picked up Loaves and read it through.

It was quite nice.  Just about the time you never wanted to hear about air holes and crumb texture again, the author would veer off on a related (or not so related) topic such as the history of pellagra, the maker of the Quik Lock – that little plastic bit that hold a bread bag closed, building an oven in his backyard, a trip through the streets of Morocco.  He does eventually make what he considers a perfect loaf; interestingly enough it’s when he ends up teaching some monks in France how to bake.  And then at the end of the year he realizes that his single-minded pursuit of that loaf of bread had really kept him from enjoying his kitchen and lets it go.  

I used to make more bread.  I have several bread cookbooks and even two bread machines (long story) but these days, bread just doesn’t get eaten fast enough around here.  One of my favorites is a thick, moist oatmeal bread but YA doesn’t like it much and I can’t eat it fast enough before it spoils.   Maybe I should just find a neighbor that I can foist a half loaf on every time I bake!

Any bread stories out there?  Make your own or have a favorite bread bakery?  Knead by hand or with a dough hook?

September Farm

The farm report comes to us from Ben.

We had some friends and their kids visit and we had a good time giving tractor rides and gator rides and collecting eggs and seeing cows. It’s always fun giving farm tours.

I finally got around to working on the brush mower. I had to order bigger sockets to get the nut off the broken spindle on the big spinny thing. (It’s 45mm by the way) And then trying to get the gear box off the mower deck, I didn’t have the right size sockets for that either. It’s 30mm. I am getting more and more metric tools, but I didn’t have anything that big. I have a 3/8” drive socket set that I use for a lot of things. And a 1/2” drive set for some of the bigger stuff. And then I started buying 3/4” drive stuff for the really big stuff. (I mean the size of the square on the head of the ratchet is 3/8” or 1/2” or 3/4”). Then I put a 3’ long pipe over the handle to get enough leverage to get the nuts loose. Took the gear box up to John Deere for them to fix.

How’s that go: Every job is an opportunity for a new tool. Worked here.

On the way home from John Deere I stopped at a farm stand and bought 4 dozen ears of sweet corn. A couple kids run this stand and it is really good corn. Got that frozen and it will be really good this winter.

My mom has a possible Covid exposure from one of her physical therapy people. I had seen her on Sunday, and she found that out on Monday. But she hasn’t tested positive herself yet and they all wear masks and mom is vaccinated and I’d think the PT person was too. So hopefully she stays good. She needs to isolate in her room, which she isn’t very happy about. And her food comes in a Styrofoam container with plastic cutlery and that’s her biggest complaint. We had a care conference Tuesday and there seems to be exceptions for everything so she’s gotten real plates now. Hope that keeps up.

Monday was Labor Day and I wondered if I should really take the day off or do some work. If I didn’t do anything I’d feel guilty. I took a nap first off. But then decided to clean up the swather and get that put away. I washed it off and oiled the chains, loosened some belts, and filled the gas tank and added some ‘Stabil’ to the fuel, and tucked it into the shed for winter.

Then decided it was a good day to burn a small brush pile behind the shed. Got that burning and cut some grass while keeping an eye on it.

We’re having a little experiment with the ducks. When they go into the pen at night, they can either walk up a ramp or they can hop up onto a block and then into the open door. Most of them seem to hop in. One day I had not put the ramp in the door, it was sitting down on the block. Everyone had gone in except one black duck and two brown ducks. They were very distressed to be outside on their own and I finally went down and put the ramp up and one brown duck went up the ramp and the other two hopped in from the block. Hmm, were the other two moral support for the ramp duck?

This is very curious, so the next night I also left the ramp down and everyone had gotten in except a black duck and a brown duck. I put the ramp back up and both ducks hopped in without using the ramp.
The third night I put the ramp in the door right away. About dusk everyone heads over to the door and the white ducks always go first and hop on the block and up into the door. Might take them two tries, but they make it. Eventually the ones waiting got tired of waiting in line and they all went and got a drink and then came back and some more hopped in, and again, the remaining few got tired of the queue, went and got another drink and then came back and no one used the ramp and everyone hopped in. Evidently the ramp is more emotional support or a guide? It’s very interesting.

FOURTH NIGHT! I had the ramp up and I watched closer; they seem to use the ramp as a guide rail. A few actually use it, some bump against the side while hopping in, and some jump up onto the ramp about 1/2 way up. Very curious. And when they come out in the morning, it’s last in, first out.

When I got home one day, all the ducks were out of their pen. We’d been talking about letting them out; they’re old enough and big enough, but being ‘adolescent’, they don’t always make the best choices and we lose a few to coyotes. That day they found a hole – or maybe ‘made’ a hole and they were all close, just on the wrong side of the fence. It wasn’t too hard to round them up, patch the hole, and get them all back inside. And then I noticed one of the white ones has a wound under one wing. Neither Kelly or I were working from home that day which makes me wonder; maybe a coyote came in the yard and caused a commotion which is what scared them out. Kelly says every day around noon there is some kind of commotion, and the dogs bark and guineas get upset so there’s something going on.

I showed Kelly how to fire the rifle and the next day, when the noon commotion began, she fired a shot. We never see anything, but we’re trying to scare it– whatever “it” is– away. Kelly really wants to shoot a coyote but she’s having trouble making the scope work for her. She is just hoping for plain, dumb luck. And she’s going to work on firing from the hip.

Chickens; they get into the ducks pen, but they can’t ever figure out how to get back out…

BONUS! Two Sandhill Cranes standing in the field when I left for work the other day.

There has been a pair here all summer, we don’t see them, we only hear them. I’m guessing this is another pair passing through.

Can you fire from the hip? And accomplish what you are trying to accomplish?

On A Roll

Three vignettes from yesterday.

Since I’m still working from home, I had on my “uniform” yesterday of jersey shorts and a tank top.  I threw on a nicer top for a client call and never took it off.  At noon, YA and I drove down to Walgreens to get our drive-thru covid tests (since we’d been to the fair so many times).  When I got into the car, YA looked me over and said “you’re not wearing THAT, are you?”  I replied that since I wasn’t getting out of the car and the Walgreens technician would only see the top 1/3 of me, yes.  YA rolled her eyes.

On the way home (both tests negative, by the way), as I was waiting at an intersection to turn right, a man with his two white/cream golden retrievers was standing on the corner until the “walk” light came on.  The dogs were gorgeous, so I rolled down the window and called to him that his dog were beautiful.  He said thanks; I turned right and drove on.  “MOOOOOMMM” said YA. 

I purchased a thing-a-ma-gig at the fair that makes it easy to put my hair in a bun.  I’ve been playing with it and when I got home I put my hair up, making the bun pretty high on my head.  Then I had a client call.  A bit later YA came into my studio.  “Did you have your hair like that during your call?”  I replied yes and she responded “It was already bad enough that you’re wearing that shirt” and then she proceeded to show me a picture of an anime character (see above) and although she didn’t say it directly, the implication was that I look like Zeniba.

So I’m three for three in embarrassing my child in one day.  Not sure I can best that record without seriously trying.

Tell me what cartoon character you look like?  Or would LIKE to look like?

Eating Our Way Through the Fair

My stomach is just now starting to feel “normal” after four days at the Fair.  I don’t go to the fair just to eat but I will say that a lot of eating gets done anyway.

YA and I always purchase two of the fair coupon books and we go through them carefully.  This year YA put post-it stickers on the things she didn’t want to miss.  And we both spent time on the fair website on the “New Fair Foods” page.  YA takes this much more seriously than I do; on the last day we went together we had a map with all the places she wanted to make sure we got to marked in red!

Here are some of the things we consumed:

  • Hawaiian Shave Ice (they took the competitor’s coupon!)
  • French Toast Bites (with pop rocks – better than you’re thinking)
  • Cheese & Potato Pierogies with horseradish sauce (for breakfast)
  • Waffle with Ice Cream Sandwich center, kettle corn, whipped cream & sprinkles
  • Siracha Cheese Funnel Cake Bites
  • Sweet Martha’s Cookies (of course)
  • Roasted Corn
  • Mac & Cheese Bites (better the first day I had them)
  • Cheese Curds (of course)
  • Tipsy Pies (yummy by not very boozy)
  • Sota Sandwich (almond butter & blueberry jam on toasted sourdough)
  • Pretzel with Cheese Sauce
  • Chocolate Malt
  • Potato Cheese Crepe (this is YA’s hands’ down favorite every year)
  • Mocktails (our favorite new food this year – over 4 days we tried 4 of them)
  • Paneer Pakora (OK but could have been so much better)
  • Cream Cheese Wontons (also could have been better)
  • Mac & Cheese (absolutely could have been better)

I know this seems excessive, but remember it was over four days.  And two of us.  But while I love the fair, I don’t think my digestive system could handle too many more visits!

Any guilty favorites when you’re out and about?

 

One Trick Pony

Both YA and I love to spend time at the Pet Pavilion and Dog Meet/Greet booths at the Fair.  The other place we always hit is the Stunt Dog Show that features dog dock diving as well as some trick dog demonstrations.  It’s amazing to me what they have taught these dogs to do.

I’ve had dogs my entire life but for most of that time, I didn’t think much about tricks.  All my dogs went to basic obedience but the basics for me have always been sit, down, come and off.  Growing up my folks never even did basic obedience.  YA’s dog, Guinevere (who has issues) has been to a LOT of obedience, mostly just to have her around other dogs and people.  Because of this we’ve managed to teach her some tricks (roll over, double dance, shake, high five, bark) along with the basics.

Growing up my folks never even did basic obedience with any of our dogs so “tricks” is outside of my experience, although one of my dogs as a kid was really smart.  Princess (named by me when I was 5) was a shepherd collie mix who came to us as a small puppy.  My mom and sisters and I started to call her Princess the Wonder Dog after she was gone because my father’s stories about her just got wilder and more inventive.  He used to tell folks that she was so intelligent that when he told her to go get his slippers, she would run upstairs and come down with them.  Of course the only problem with that story was that my dad never wore slippers in his life!

Princess did actually know one trick.  If you had her sit and stay, you could put a treat on her nose; she would sit patiently until you said “OK” and then she would deftly toss the treat up a bit and then catch it.  We didn’t ask her to do this much, but she could do it – no exaggeration from my dad needed.  So when the elementary school that my middle sister and I were attending had a family fair with a pet contest, Sally (said sister) really wanted to enter Princess and have her do her one trick.

Sally, who was in the 3rd grade, practiced with Princess for several days before the fair.  She packed up bologna, a really high value treat; she was convinced that Princess would win hands down.  When the time came for Princess to strut her stuff, there were a lot of people, a lot of other dogs and she was nervous.  Sally dutifully had her sit, stay and then put the bologna on her nose.  Sally stepped back and it didn’t take long for Princess to jump back, drop the bologna on the ground and then promptly scoop it up and chow it down.  Sally was absolutely mortified.  I can still hear her say in her trembling angry voice “bad dog, bad dog”.  Princess hung her head in shame.  Sally never volunteered her to do that trick every again.

Have you ever had a pet with a good trick?

Fair Joy

I know we talked about joy the other day, but… I want to talk about it again.

At the State Fair yesterday, a woman with two kids sat down next to me on the curb, waiting for the parade to begin.  The son was about 8 or so, the daughter was maybe 3.  She was adorable with bright blonde hair that curled around her face and the back of her neck.  She also had quite a dirty face – a combination of what looked like chocolate and something berry-ish. The berry stain had found a home on the front of her shirt as well.

The most interesting thing about this little girl was the fact that she was completely suffused with joy.  Everything about the parade was fascinating to her.  She couldn’t sit down, swaying and dancing as each band went by.  She ooh’ed and aaah’ed over the stilt walkers, the art cars, the waving princesses and especially the big bovines.  As each attraction reached us, she would turn to her mother, her face alight with pleasure, pointing out this newest discovery.

No matter how you measure it, nobody enjoyed the fair more yesterday than this toddler. 

When was the last time you got dirty (and enjoyed the process)?

Havin’ a Blast

Last week I was the recipient of the fabulous Baboon support that others in our little community have experienced over the years.  After hearing me talk (whine?) about my front porch project, tim sent me a message.  If I rented the sandblaster that he linked me to, would I like it if he came over to help?  I didn’t have to think about that very hard.  After two+ years of scraping layers of paint off by hand, making some real headway seemed like a good choice.

The first hiccup was when I went to pick up the equipment.  While the sandblaster and the hoses fit into my little car, the air compressor that makes the sandblaster go did not.  I called tim from the rental lot and he volunteered to pick it up before coming to my house that day.  And, of course, this meant that at the end of the project, he got to return all the equipment as well.

The second hiccup was finding out that we couldn’t just scrape up the sand on the floor and re-use it.  Paint chips clogged the nozzle.  We ended up straining the sand through my metal sieve into a big bucket, then re-using it.  I’m sure the manufacturer didn’t want to hear that. 

We pretty quickly settled into a routine.  I swept and sieved while tim blasted.  We had to improvise a few times; we used the kitty tower to get the sandblaster high enough to reach to top parts of the walls and we used my Mickey Mouse cake tester to unclog the nozzle a few times.  The cake tester and the sieve survived the ordeal, the kitty tower did not.  (The new one arrives next week).

Let me tell you that sandblasting in a small, enclosed porch (even with the windows and front door open) is like working in h-e-double hockey sticks.  We didn’t get finished the first afternoon and on the second afternoon, we both had upgraded our headgear and eyewear.  In fact, we both had shiny goggles the second day and I’m sure we looked like large bugs.  Both days, we hosed off in the backyard.  I can’t speak for tim, but the showers after each day for me were epic.  The first day I wasn’t sure I would ever get the sand and grit out of my scalp.

We also re-visited our personality differences.  While working, tim, being a big picture person, could not stop thinking of the next steps after the sandblasting was done.  Some new plaster/mud, plywood on the floor.  I could see his point but I, being a non-big picture person, didn’t want to think about it right then.  I just wanted the h-e-double hockey sticks to be finished.  And, of course, tim is correct – there is plenty more to do.  In fact YA has added to the chore list by doing some wood fill on the window panes.  And I broke two windows doing some clean up so now there will be some new glass and glazing.  And most of the other windows need re-glazing as well. 

But even with all the work left, I feel completely renewed by how much we got done in two afternoons with a sandblaster.  And even if you don’t think I need to tell you, I will anyway.  There is no way on the planet that I could have accomplished this by myself.

So my hat is off to tim.  He is a miracle-worker and a life-saver.

Has anybody worked a miracle for you lately?

School Jitters

One part of my current job is that of a clinician on our Youth and Family Team. School starts here on Thursday, and it seems like many of our young clients are falling apart at the prospect of a new school year.

I remember being unable to sleep in the days before school started, anxious about the excitement and uncertainty. I never had to worry about getting a potentially deadly disease or wearing masks, or worrying if I would be sent home on quarantine. Things are sure different.

The members of my team can’t wait until school starts and thing presumably settle down for our clients. At least we hope they settle down.

What about school starting gave you the jitters when you were a child? What were your most favorite and least favorite years in elementary and middle school?

Anticipation

Last week, someone at work referred to me as a “glass half-empty” kind of person.  I was a little surprised, as I don’t think of myself as a gloomy Gus.  I do work hard to keep my expectations low sometimes – especially for events or big occasions.  That way, if something tanks, I’m not terribly disappointed.  But if it goes well, then I am very happy – probably happier than if I had high expectations.  So maybe I am “glass half-empty”.

Next week is the opening of the State Fair.  I don’t need to bore you all (again) with my love of the State Fair but I am telling you, it is HARD to keep my expectations in line.  YA and I did the mini (pretend) fair experience over Memorial Day and it was a good idea to not go into it with a lot of excitement. But even with that very blah experience under our belts, we’ve spent a lot of time in the last week figuring out which days, how many tickets, what new foods, when will the golden retrievers be there, where parking is this year.  We bought our tickets and have even combed through the coupon booklets already.  I have taken opening day off of work as well as a few other days.  YA has also requested a couple of days off.

Considering the current state of affairs, it seems dangerous to get my hopes up.  The Fair could just be a disaster this year.

But with all this activity and still a few days before opening, how do I keep my expectations low?  Are you a half-full or half-empty type?