Category Archives: Uncategorized

Give It Up

Husband came home Wednesday from his work day in Bismarck to find his right big toe was swollen from gout. He drives to Bismarck on Tuesday nights, stays at a hotel, and works at the Human Service Center all day on Wednesday. Sometimes he takes lunch with him from home in a cooler, but he often just scrambles for lunch on the fly from the grocery stores. Wednesday it was hummus.

Chickpeas are really bad for gout. He knows this, but really loves hummus. He still eats it. He also is seriously allergic to cats, but we have had cats in our home for 35 years. A dripping nose and sneezing are more tolerable to him than the absence of purring. A swollen toe is worth some hummus. I know I could never give up down pillows or comforters if I became allergic to feathers.

My Uncle Alvie, the poker player, always broke out in hives when he ate fresh strawberries. He always feasted on his wife’s homegrown strawberries though, no matter how itchy he got. I know that allergic reactions can be serious. I had a graduate school friend who would go into anaphylaxis if she walked into a home with gerbils or guinea pigs. A work friend recently got a bunny for her son and after a few hours her eyes swelled shut and poor Coco had to go back to his breeder. They were heartbroken.

Do you have allergies? What would be hard for you to give up for allergies or health issues?


This blog over the past week has given me an opportunity to talk a bit about my family. Barbara in Rivertown commented that I had rather colorful relatives. Well, I think that we all have colorful relatives. I am just blessed to come from a family that likes to gossip and tell stories about themselves.

This was particularly true of my father’s family. My paternal grandfather had 12 siblings, all of them restless, energetic, and endowed with a wonderful sense of irony. They loved to talk and tell stories about each other.

I think it takes a lot of thought and humor to be a good storyteller. You need the right voice and the sense of what is important to communicate. You also need to have a grasp of the ridiculous.

Who are your more colorful relatives? Who are your favorite storytellers? What do you think makes a good storyteller? What were your favorite stories as a child?


On Sunday, we played in the church bell choir accompanied by the High School band director on timpani and a very accomplished group of High School brass players.

Being musicians, the bell choir players had some rather acerbic comments about the brass players. One of the trumpet players was always late for our rehearsals, and a bell player who is also a music teacher commented that trumpet players were notoriously full of themselves and didn’t think they had to follow the rules everyone else had to follow. I commented that my father advised me in all seriousness when I was in High School to never marry an oboe player, since they had to blow so hard on their double reed that they eventually went mad.

As a psychologist, I always love discussing personality types. I have known humble trumpet players and perfectly sane oboe players, but I wonder where these stereotypes come from. I was a bass clarinet player, and I don’t know of any stereotypes of those who play that instrument. Perhaps an unusual affection for the Grand Canyon Suite?

What are some occupational stereotypes you feel are accurate? Inaccurate? Who are some people you know who defy stereotypes?

The Sky Is Falling

I was sitting at the computer at home Friday afternoon when I heard a loud crash outside. Some investigation led to the discovery that a very large chunk of ice had fallen onto the deck from the pergola atop the deck where there are lots of grape vines.

One of our snowstorms deposited more than two feet of snow on the deck and west roof of the house. The warmer weather over the past couple of weeks had melted the snow which turned into solid ice, which now was falling through the open spaces on the pergola.

The ice chunk that fell could have injured us or the dog. There were lots remaining atop the pergola, so I stood in the doorway and poked the ice through the pergola with a broom handle until it all fell down .

I have always loved doing things like this. It was so oddly satisfying, poking those ice chunks so they crashed onto the deck, comparable to clearing blocked channels of water and unstopping clogged surface storm sewer grates. Odd, I know, but there it is. I would probably love doing demolition work. I also love shooting off fireworks. Perhaps they are related.

What do you find oddly satisfying? Ever been in an avalanch or had a concussion?

Late Bloomer

Today’s Farm Report comes from Ben

Another sign of pending spring is the ice at my machine shed walk-in door finally melted enough I could get the door shut again. It’s works all winter, but then, due to some poorly executed land grading that I did without forethought, as the snow starts to melt it runs into the shop and the door freezes shut. I used to play a guessing game on when all the doors would freeze shut and try to get them opened the day before. There were a few times I missed that day, and it took a lot of chopping ice with an axe to get the door open enough I could get in. And, more importantly, out.

Three years ago, I added an overhang that solved the ice problem at the big doors. This summer we will regrade the driveway and that will fix the water running through the walk-in door.

We had a Thunderstorm and some hail on Monday.

The drain tile down by the barn that fills the duck pond is running heavy. It doesn’t run this heavy very often. Usually that means the frost is out. The tile is a good thing as all this water would be coming out on top of the ground otherwise and it would be all spongey down there. I’ve had that other years prior to the tile.

Kelly and the dogs took a long walk around the pastures and fields on a warm day. The dogs found a hole they were VERY interested in, and they’ve gone back the last couple days to dig more.

Humphrey got a shower after this. He doesn’t like them. But he doesn’t figure out he should stay clean either.

For some reason, I’ve got a chicken laying smaller eggs. They look like beginner eggs. Shouldn’t be any beginner chickens at this point in time but maybe we’ve got a late bloomer. I know I’ve mentioned before how they seem to like groups of three. More often than not, I find a clutch of eggs in batches divisible by 3.

(Photos this week all from Kelly)



School Days

I recently spent an hour observing a child in a Grade 4 classroom in one of our smaller local schools. The children were quite well behaved and engaged in their activity, which was Reading. The teacher was young and energetic, and the classroom itself was organized but colorful.

My Grade 4 teacher was my worst teacher ever. She spoke frequently about her deceased husband, and how a door to door salesman fooled her into buying a bible that he said her husband had ordered before he died. She found out later that it was a scam, and the salesman just read obituaries in the paper and showed up on the relatives’ doorsteps asking for payment.

My mother taught Grade 3 and loved every minute of it. She taught from the age of 19 to her retirement at age 55 due to MS. She would have kept teaching for years had her health not worsened. I think Grade 3 is a perfect age to teach, as they are not too close to their teen years or too immature. I could never teach Middle School students. They are the worst for drama. Some people just love them, though.

If you had to teach kids, what age would you teach, and why? Who were your best and worst teachers? Know any good traveling salesmen stories?


I saw in the news that the creator of the game, Settlers of Catan, Klaus Teuber, died a few days ago.  If you don’t know of it, Settlers of Catan is a multi-player game; you settle and expand on the land using hexagonal tiles.  I’ve always assumed it was similar in play to Risk, but I could be wrong.  It was wildly popular right off the bat in the late 90s and while still played in boardgame fashion, it has also spun off into cyberspace so you can easily find Catan communities of players.

I have a friend, Laurie, who has played Dungeons and Dragons every Tuesday for decades.  This is a serious commitment for her; I’ve known her to turn down other invitations if they fall on Tuesday.  I’ve known her for 40 years and she’s never once invited me to join; non D&D folks just aren’t allowed.  That’ fair – all I know about D&D is what I’ve seen on Big Bang Theory!

But seeing the news about Klaus Teuber made me think of our blog about jigsaw puzzles the other day which led me to thinking about the games I’ve played in my life.  We didn’t have a lot of boardgames when I was a kid.  The obligatory Candyland, which I never cared for much.  My Nana had Chutes & Ladders at her house, which I adored.  I begged for the game Operation and never received it. It was just as well; a friend got one for Christmas and it was BORING.  Same with the Mousetrap game.

I played a lot of backgammon in college but hardly ever since.  I like trivia games, although I’m not very good at the ones that have a lot of current/trendy questions. We played one at Thanksgiving that had a lot of current sports questions and even a category about stock exchange abbreviations – I stunk.  When YA was little, we did Yahtzee and cribbage on vacation, but almost never at home.  I do play mahjong online but just with myself which isn’t anything like real mahjong.  I guess my favorite boardgame is still Aggravation, which I play exclusively with my mom.  We each play three colors and we’re a little cut-throat.  YA won’t play with me although when we were in St. Louis last summer she did play once, she and Nonny and I each fielding two colors.  She complained later that Nonny and I are mean.

Any favorite boardgames as a kid?  These days? 

Signs of Spring

I am waiting for a blizzard to hit while I write this. We are expecting up to 6 inches of snow to add the the 96 inches we have had thus far this winter. We are told that after this it will warm up, with highs possibly in the 70’s next week. I will believe it when I see it, but I will try to be hopeful.

If it warms up quickly it will be a muddy, mucky mess for a while. Our daughter in law sent a video of our grandson riding his bike gleefully through large puddles that had accumulated in their street. Kids on bikes in puddles are sure signs of spring. There are also dismal looking lawn and Christmas ornaments that are emerging from under the snow piles, which I suppose could also be signs of impending spring.

I have a third cousin who a couple of Baboons also know who is an expert about snakes and amphibians. He is excited about finding garter snakes coming out of hibernation already this year, signs of spring for him. I have yet to see robins or other migratory birds, but Husband saw hawks on his drive back from Bismarck on Monday, more signs that winter is losing its grip. Here is a favorite Canadian folk singer from Saskatchewan who understands about spring.

What signs of spring are you noticing? What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of April? Know any good poems or songs about spring?

Sweet Talk

I got a text from Daughter Sunday letting me know she talked her way out of a speeding ticket. She said she was only going 10 mph over the speed limit. I told her she needed to slow down.

I don’t know how she does it, but this is about the fifth or sixth ticket she has talked her way out of. I have only had one speeding ticket in my life, only going about 5 mph over the limit in town, and the police officer had no trouble citing me.

Husband got several speeding tickets from the Dunn County Sherriff and Tribal police driving back from the Reservation. The Tribal tickets were never reported to the State, so he didn’t get points on his license for them.

The Highway Patrol in western Minnesota often cite people who don’t notice that the speed limit changes when you cross the Dakota borders into Minnesota, and assume they can still drive Dakota speeds. Our governor just vetoed a bill that would have increased the speed limit to 80 in ND. People drive that speed here anyway, so it wouldn’t have made much of a difference for him to sign the bill.

Every talked your way out a ticket? What is the fastest you ever drove? Why were you going that fast?

Passing The Time

Daughter’s visit last week was an opportunity for us to finally celebrate a very belated Christmas. She got her father a 1000 piece puzzle of Birds of the Backyard, which we have been working on daily since he unwrapped it. We haven’t worked on a jigsaw puzzle since the kids were young.

The puzzle It is set up on the dining room table, and we will just eat and work around it until it is completed. The dog got a couple of pieces but only did minor damage to them.

We may have a lot of opportunity to work on the puzzle this week, as a snow storm is coming that the National Weather Service says could be a blizzard of historic proportions. Their models are showing wind speeds that are the strongest they have seen in 20 years.

Husband is traveling to Bismarck for work Sunday and Monday, and will return Monday before the storm hits on Tuesday. We are rarely bored, but a puzzle will be just the thing to help us pass the time if we are snowed in.

How do you like to pass the time when you can’t leave the house? What is your most memorable jigsaw puzzle?