Friday, December 29, 2006

2006 Revisited

We had a lot of 'firsts' this past year. Big deal birthdays, a wedding, Randy opted out of corporate America. Since 2007 is almost here, I thought I'd share a few of our memories from the year gone by.

It started out pretty quiet. We drove to Minnesota in February, and I went again in May. Jess moved back to Oklahoma in June.

Curtis came home in June for his 21st birthday. He flew this plane down and his cousin flew another with Aunt Lisa and two nieces. The next birthday was mine, in July. I turned fifty, with mixed feelings.

My nephew got married in July, so Randy flew us to Albuquerque for that. His is the first marriage on either side of the family. Jess and I did the photography.

There is my daughter, the firefighter, my son, the cowboy, and my niece, the chief.

And here I am dancing with my handsome son.

The day after we got home from that, Randy left his job and we had to let go of our 12 year old Golden Retriever, Rusty. In the following months, Jessica bought a motorcycle (ugh), had her 18th birthday, voted for the first time. Randy started a business, I started a blog, Jess finished high school. All in all, an interesting and busy year. In closing, I would like to say Happy New Year, and post one more photograph. This is from a Christmas years ago in Duluth. I don't know what's going on, but from the expressions on the faces of my children, I am going to assume it has something to do with the passing of gas.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Carol

It seems to me that we used to go caroling fairly frequently when I was a kid. Or we would have people caroling to us. Maybe people are just too busy to do that so much anymore. Or perhaps it's just the nature of our society now, that you just don't go around singing to strangers. Or opening your door to strange people singing. Our doorbell rang last night and we opened it to this.

Which was totally unexpected. And they weren't all strangers. That goof on the left actually spends quite a bit of time here. They sang a couple of songs for us, and they were quite good singers. It was a nice touch to the season.

The last time I went caroling was our first year in Duluth. We were invited by one of my husband's co-workers to a caroling party. There was a lot of food, and the hostess was quite proud of the fact that they had their traditional lutefisk. Which we were required to "at least taste it." Which I did. Nuff said. Then we went caroling. There was 40 plus inches of snow on the ground from the Halloween blizzard plus some other snowfalls after that. We had just moved from Corpus Christi, Texas, so our blood was thin. I don't remember what the temperature was. Suffice it to say that it's difficult to sing when your mouth is frozen. We were invited the following year, but we declined. You know, because of the lutefisk.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


I feel the need to update a couple of recent posts. On December 5th, Deck the Halls showed some questionably decorated houses not far from where we live. They are quite compelling during the day, but, to get the full effect, they really must be viewed in the dark. (Click to enlarge.)

That is Merry Christmas from the Bells. And across the street is . . . drum roll!

Notice Santa charging in from the northwest. He knows just where to go because you can see this display with the naked eye from Pluto.

In the December 11th post, If It Ain't Broke . . . , I described my adventures with our twenty year old artificial Christmas tree. My daughter and I were putting the tree up last Sunday, shut up. We spent about twenty minutes stuffing tin foil into the stand to make the tree stand straight. Then we put the boughs into the little holes and strung the lights. Jess was putting the tree skirt down when we heard a crack. Uh oh. The supports for two boughs had broken clean off. I tried to super glue it, to no avail. Plastic that old rejects glue. Jess and I looked at each other and we knew. We had to put the old tree down. We went to K-Mart and actually found a new tree at a good price AND it was 40% off. Imagine, the week before Christmas! My husband was quite amused and commented that he might have to start a blog so he could write a post about the situation. So, with a bit of humble pie, here's to my hubby, who put up with that other tree many years longer than he would have liked. But what's cool is that the new tree doesn't need tin foil to stand up straight.

Jess has a friend who just bought a house, and she said he might like to have a tree. She's going to ask him if he wants what's left of it. It's possible . . . he's pretty good with a C-clamp.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Of Mice and Men

So I guess yesterday morning my daughter and my husband were eating breakfast at the kitchen counter/breakfast bar/thingie, and hubby looked up and noticed something in the ceiling air vent. He pointed it out to my daughter, who surmised it was some kind of mold or dust something growing there. They are so naive.

Hubby and I were on our way out to play golf when he pointed it out to me. He said something about something growing in our ducts and he didn't like it. I said, um, it's a tail of a rodent hanging out of our vent.

His jaw dropped and he was like, ew, and I said we really need to get that down. But not right now because, duh, we're leaving to play golf. Priorities.

I was unaware of the breakfast conversation, so when my daughter came home, I figured I'd freak her out a little. I asked if she wanted to see something really repulsive. Her eyes lit up in that I'm scared but intrigued kind of way teenage girls get. I pointed out the air duct and she said oh, yeah, dad already showed me that this morning. Very nonchalant. I said, oh, don't you know what it is? Well, it's mold or something. No, it's a rodent tail. WHAT!?!?!? OMIGOD!!! Scream, eeewww, scream, eeewww, etc.

So hubby got the ladder, unscrewed the vent, and rescued us from the tiny deceased mouse. My hero. Except for when I was holding the ladder for him and he went, "OH NO IT FELL ON ME!" and I almost stroked out.

Turns out the mousie had only had too much egg nog and was taking a break. We delivered him to the field behind the house. I'm sure he woke up with a terrible hangover, had some coffee, called in sick to work, and now he's fine. Yeah, I'm sure that's what happened.

Monday, December 11, 2006

If It Ain't Broke . . .

I have Christmas tree issues. I wouldn't, but my spouse induces them. Twenty years ago, our son was 18 months old and very active, curious and, occasionally, destructive. I figured a fake tree would fare better than a real one and, when knocked over, would be easier to clean up (no water or pine needles). I bought a six foot faux tree for thirty dollars. We still have it.

My husband tells people that our tree is a ratty piece of crap. Because it's old. (Doesn't bode well for me.) In fact, it's quite a nice tree, with one exception. The stand that came with it broke several years ago and it's been a trick keeping it upright since then.

The year after the stand broke, my daughter wanted to decorate the tree one Saturday. I was sick as a dog and didn't feel like doing it, but it was getting pretty close to Christmas. Try as we would, we couldn't keep it from leaning or, worse, crashing to the floor. The nearest store was a thirty minute drive, and I was definitely not up for that. I opted to take a nap and try again later. I guess my daughter talked to her dad. When I woke up and went to the living room, the tree was up. It was in a corner near built-in shelves, a mantle, and an entertainment center. Each of these structures was equipped with a C-clamp, to which baling wire was attached. You can guess where the baling wire went from there. The worst part was that the tree still wasn't straight. I cried and went back to bed.

Yes, that is the cat performing his ablutions, please try to focus on the tree. It's not so bad, is it? It's not this, by any means.

I have managed since the

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Deck the Halls

Most of our neighbors hire someone to take care of their lawn in the summer. Our yard may not look as well groomed as some, but we kinda don't like to pay for stuff we can do ourselves. Likewise, during the holidays, we don't hire the people who tend our lawn to put up our Christmas lights. My daughter and her friends put them up a week or so ago. There are lots of brightly colored utility cords scattered around the yard, the walkway, and duct tape was involved. Definitely not as professional looking as the Joneses. I really don't care about that, as long as I'm not the one putting up the lights. I like shiny things, and having lights up saves us from being the only Scrooges on the street.

A couple of miles from our house, there is an amazing display of holiday spirit. (Click photo to enlarge.)

So imagine how you would feel if you took the time to tranform your yard into a North Pole-like setting, and THIS showed up (literally) across the street.

This display has everything. Santa, Jesus, Disney characters, the Statue of Liberty, and, when it's lit up at night, loud Christmas carols.

Decorations are spilling into the side yard at this point. From there, they work their way into the yard of the neighbor to the north.

I honestly don't know what to think of all of this. On the one hand, it would be nice to show some restraint, perhaps a touch of class. Then again, you sorta have to admire the degree of perseverance this must require. You also have to wonder where they keep this stuff 11 months of the year. But the bottom line is, you can't look away. Just felt like sharing.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Thankful for 50 Years

I know Thanksgiving was last week, and everyone is moving on to Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Boxing Day. But we had a very special, and I'm certain rare, holiday this year, and I would like to explain why.

In November, 1954, my father-in-law (Mr. K) was stationed at Camp Detrick in Maryland. He and his bride had been married less than a month. He had run into a classmate from South Dakota School of Mines in the mess hall (Mr. H) in October. Mr. H invited Mr. K to Thanksgiving dinner. When he learned that Mr. K was going to Kansas to be married before the holiday, of course he included the new Mrs. K in the deal. On November 25, they sat down at the H's apartment to a dinner of chicken with fixin's. The only thing missing was cranberries because Mrs. H, who was very pregnant, forgot to take them out of the fridge.

They became good friends, and spent more Thanksgivings together. When Mr. H was discharged, the H's moved to the Minneapolis area. The K's followed a few months later. The men worked at the same company for several years, and they lived in the same town. Mr. K changed companies, the K's moved a few suburbs away, more children were born (nine total), and the Thanksgiving tradition continued. In 52 years, there have only been two times that the families did not celebrate together. One was in 1965, when the Hs' home was destroyed by a tornado. The other was in 1967, when my father-in-law's parents were killed in a car accident. So 2006 marked the 50th year the original couple had spent the holiday together.

In the twenty-some years I have been married to the K's son, I have had the opportunity to attend many of these celebrations. The nine children are now middle-aged, their children are heading off to college, the military, parts unknown. Thanksgiving is the only time that we see many of them, although the in-laws keep us up on their activities.

We received a card from the H's oldest grandson last summer. He signed off with "See you at Thanksgiving!" It felt good to be expected. So we got together, exchanged memories from Thanksgivings past, had a champagne toast, ate too much, bounced on the trampoline, watched football and ate some more. We gave thanks for 50 years and for one another, something solid to cling to in good times and bad. We are looking forward to next year and 49 more.