Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Superior Storm

The gales that whip themselves up on the shores of Lake Superior are truly awe-inspiring, no matter what season they hit!

After a beautiful blue sky day yesterday, we were awoken in the middle of the night by the howling wind. The snow started soon after, and has created a whole new snowswept landscape outside our windows. Gusts are up to 40 mph, and the snow continues on, limiting visibility to a short distance.

Mother Nature, up close.

We are cozy in our suite, with a fire going and comfort food ready to cook in our kitchen. The Monopoly game is ready to go, and a stack of movies will keep us occupied.

My dad ended up being flown to Duluth yesterday-what are the chances? Looks like Bemidji may have over-reacted in sending him here, but while they have him they are doing a complete check-up before they release him. So my mom and siblings are all in Duluth, and with this weather I can't get down there! We are all waiting for test results, to see how long they will keep him, but no one is driving anywhere today in these conditions.

What a difference a day makes...

Monday, March 30, 2009

sunrise on Lake Superior

I wish I had a picture of it. It is so achingly beautiful. Mike and I watched the sun rise over the lake as the first ship of the season was headed across the lake to the harbor. It was a gorgeous drive up here yesterday, the lake ice is piling up along the shoreline, creating sculptures tinged with an eerie blue. We had an amazing meal at our favorite Duluth spot-Va Bene right on the shore.

My cell phone rang at 5:30 this morning. Disoriented and mostly asleep, I stumbled to where it was charging in the kitchen of our suite. Missed the call, it was my sister. Heart pounding, trying to call her back, no answer. She rang me back, my dad is in the hospital, taken there by the ambulance early this morning.

He is okay, but will be in the hospital for a couple of days-he has a nasty infection that caused his fever to climb to over 105. I had just talked to him yesterday morning (didn't even know he wasn't well, of course he didn't tell me), making sure they had our phone numbers in case of emergency. I had remarked to Mike, on the way up here "It's Murphy's Law-if they have our phone numbers they won't need them." Guess I was wrong this time! He doesn't want me to come and see him, sounds like he needs some major antibiotics and lots of rest. I send him all my love and good thoughts.

Big snowstorm headed this way-they are expecting nearly a foot of snow here. Mike and Charlie will ski today, the snow is supposed to start tonight. We will get to have a snow day in snow country! Today I will stock up on movies and board games and goodies for the fridge-we have a full kitchen so we can spend some good family time together. And skiing on Wednesday will be amazing!

For now the sun is shining, the guys have already left for the ski hill, and I am ready to relax.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

taking a break

We are driving up to Grand Marais today for a week of fun-Mike and Charlie plan to spend several days skiing at Lutsen (new snow is forecast for every day next week!) I have a huge bag of knitting and other crafty pursuits, along with several books and lots of tea. Can't wait to hunker down and just enjoy the calm. No bookkeeping, no phones, no laundry, no noisy cat waking me up at 4 am to eat!

Look for pictures and updates when I have them...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

dry thoughts

Our hearts go out to all of our friends in the Red River Valley today, a special note of calm to Beth and Eric, who got the call to evacuate their home at 6:10 am yesterday. They have been sandbagging all over the area for more than a week, at the same time trying to keep the water out of their own home. I am sure they are both emotionally and physically drained, and I hope that the river does not rise as far as predicted, and that their home will be safe.

I know Beth and her daughter Maren are now tucked away in St. Cloud, and that Eric stayed behind to monitor the situation. All dry thoughts to all of you, and we hope that you can find some time to rest, and recharge, and drink copious amounts of wine and beer. And then move on when the river doesn't dictate your life anymore.

A fraternity brother of Mike's had to abandon his home on Wedneseday, he and his wife will most likely not rebuild. I can't even imagine the heartache of saying goodbye to your home.

And to all of our other friends and acquaintances along the Red River Valley (Mike and I lived in both Grand Forks and Fargo, so a little bit of us is still there), we wish you dry homes, and a little rest. You are an amazing group of strong hearted, courageous people that we are proud to know.

Friday, March 27, 2009

time flies, Cub Scout edition

Last night was one of those milestone nights, that give you pause to look back and realize that childhood moves at warp speed.

Here is Charlie-in the fall of 2004-showing off his sailboat with his troop buddies.
Selling popcorn to raise money for camp, circa 2005.Having fun with his buddy Alec at Camp Navaho during the summer of 2008.At last evening's Blue and Gold Banquet, where he crossed over to officially become a Boy Scout.Time does, indeed, fly.

Charlie's goal is to become an Eagle Scout-a pretty good goal these days, and something we will support in every way we can. Lots of camping, hard work, and community service. Here is what the Boy Scouts believe in, and practice.I am pretty sure Bernie Madoff was never a Boy Scout.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Every once in a while, a business will do something that I find amazing. It is usually bad. But today, I was pleasantly surprised by something we received in the mail.

It was from DirectTV. And it wasn't a bill. It was a thank you note, thanking us for being customers for ten years. And to thank us, they let us know that they would be taking $5 off our bill for the next 10 months.


I checked, and they didn't raise the price $5 on me lately.

So I think this is a genuine gesture of appreciation, from a big old company.

Kind of made my day.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

sending you some flowers...

...because I think we all need some, and I can't think of anything to talk about today.

Monday, March 23, 2009

rainy days and Mondays

Didn't feel like posting until I could drag myself out of the funk I woke up in this morning.

Piles of laundry to be done, piles of work on my desk. My mom and sis are gone, the fun is over. Raining, raining, windy, and cold. No coworkers to distract me, or make me laugh with their jokes. I just wanted to pull the covers over my head, put the heating pad on my sore spine, and go back to dreamland.

Okay, pulled myself together. Lit some candles, put on some happy music, brewed another pot of coffee. The laundry is started, the work is getting there. Added a pic of my mom and sis to my desktop to remind me of laughing together. Started a pot of chili to warm our tummies on this cold day.

Some days just feel like a dead end. And it is hard to know which other direction to take to get to where you want to go. But eventually, you figure it out, and move forward (after retracing your steps, for just a short way).

At least I have a warm cat. At least I don't live in the Red River Valley and have to spend the day sand bagging (feeling for you Beth!) At least all of my family is healthy (my thoughts are with you, Tracy). At least I have a roof over my head, and happy people in my life. So now that my pity party is over, I can move forward.

At least it isn't snow...

Friday, March 20, 2009

my girls

Oh joy and celebration, my mom and sis are coming to spend the weekend with me!Mike and Charlie are headed out for a weekend of fun at Boy Scout camp in Wisconsin, so I get to spend time with my girls. You would think I lived in Australia, as often as we get to see each other.

The weather has conspired against us several times in the last few months, and canceled two of our weekends. But the snow is out of the picture for this weekend (I hope) so they will arrive on Friday night and leave on Sunday.

I can hardly wait! (better go check the wine and cheese supplies....)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

planting dilemmas

Our school is holding their annual plant sale. It's a great opportunity to buy all of the basics I will need for my window boxes, pots and garden fillers.The empty form, all four pages of it, are full of promise. What shall my theme be this year? Do I go for the cottage garden look, with muted pastels? A firey glow of reds and oranges? An all-white theme? Or multiple shades of blues and purples?

Good lord, the pressure.
Last year I went wild and ordered pretty much every color on the palette.So far I have put together two completely different orders, one with lots of colors, one with just a few. Oh well, it has a week to ferment before I have to make my decision. Maybe if I just sit in my back yard on a sunny afternoon, the garden will tell me what I should do.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

time flies, part VII

It's officially over.

Charlie's childhood, that is.

There have been glimpses, in the last few years, and I knew it would happen.

Last summer, (you may remember) he informed me, quite happily, that he was stinky, and needed some deoderant. Yesterday, he asked me to pick up some body spray and matching cologne. You read it right, cologne. Old Spice Pure Sport, specifically. To coordinate with his deoderant, and body wash.

Oh, would my Grandma Betty have loved this! She always gave gift sets to all of the guys in the family for Christmas, back then it was Jade East or Old Spice. They usually got dusty in the boxes, as my dad didn't wear a lot of cologne or aftershave in his machine shop.

Today's Old Spice comes in many scents, to my nose not a single one of them smell like the original Old Spice. And I have tried to give Charlie scent lessons "don't let your cologne enter the room before you do".

And now, this morning, he took his bowl of oatmeal, and his glass of juice, and asked to eat his breakfast in his room, at his desk. So he could listen to his radio. I guess this means our mornings of sharing the newspaper at the dining room table are done. But maybe this is just a phase, and he will miss us, and join us again.

Especially when we start eating outside on the patio table...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

sick day

First off- Happy St. Paddy's Day! Have a green beer (or cookie, if you prefer).

Speaking of green...Charlie had a fever and sore throat yesterday-strep has been going around school, so he stayed home.

Do you remember sick days as a child? Once it was decided that I was too sick to attend school, I would burrow down under the still warm covers. I could hear the sounds of others getting on with their day around me, and listen to the roar of the school bus as it slowed for my stop, then sped on by when it realized I wasn't there.

If I had a bad cold, my mom would make me cream of wheat. I really disliked it any other day of the year, but for some reason I loved it when I had a cold. If I had stomach troubles, it was toast, cut into triangles. And I always got a bendy straw in my juice, or water, or milk, so it was easier for me to drink. My favorite sick day lunch, if I had a cold, was cream of tomato soup and grilled cheese (on white bread of course-did they even make whole wheat sandwich bread then?)

My mom would bring in my food on a metal tray, that had legs that folded down so it could sit on my lap on the bed. She would fluff the pillows up, and make sure I wasn't going to spill all over the blankets.

My favorite benefit of a sick day (it wasn't missing school, as I LOVED going to school) was uninterrupted reading time. As kids, we had lots of chores at home, and reading wasn't allowed until the work was done. So to have a whole day, and be able to read as long as I wanted to, was bliss. It made feeling crummy nearly worth it!

In second grade, I had the chicken pox over Christmas vacation. I had received two books for Christmas that year (my favorite gift) and I devoured them over the several days I spent in bed, trying hard not to scratch all of those spots. "Little Women" and "The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew" are still some of my favorites. When I had the mumps (both sides at the same time, I truly looked like a chipmunk) I read "The Saturdays". Such wonderful sick day reading!

Charlie laid on the couch and watched old episodes of "The Office". Things change.

Monday, March 16, 2009


In Minnesota, there are many things you long for.

The sight of real green grass, peeking through the mud and sludge of winter snow.

A gentle breeze caressing your face as you open the door in the morning to pick up the newspaper.

Brilliant blue skies, as you drink that first cup of coffee.

In March, this is what you want to see. Dripping icicles.You almost want the roof to leak, as you know it is a sure sign that the winter snows are melting, and soon the lock winter has had on us will be over.

I know it isn't officially spring until this Friday, but after the lovely temps of the weekend I cannot help but be hopeful.

I know, it was below zero just a few days ago, but I am a glass-is-half-full kind of girl.

I know, we often get snow in April.

But for today, let me just smile and enjoy the sunshine.

Friday, March 13, 2009

finding joy

I have a framed piece of needlework that I look at every morning, "Don't Postpone Joy".

Easier said than done, many days.

The April issue of "real simple" magazine arrived today, and the corner peaking out under the stack of junk mail said "42 Ways to Add Joy to your Day". I quickly thumbed through to find the article, as I am always seeking more joy in my life.

After all, I'm not supposed to postpone it.

Actually, it was just a semi-clever way for them to introduce you to some new products you could buy. Which I did not find joyful, in the least.

But it is still my favorite magazine, and it appears to be chock full of info I will use-giving me the best bang for my magazine buying buck.

But now, I am going to have to think of my own ways to add joy to my life. So I guess I am compelled to share them with you, dear readers.

1. Get a new green plant. It doesn't matter what kind, as long as it is green, and can sit on your desk, or near the kitchen sink. A gentle reminder that someday all of the snow will melt.

2. Get a new toothbrush, in a fun color. And if you are really crazy, get one that vibrates!

3. Paint your toenails a fun color. Today I had mine painted a very vibrant shade of purple. Something I would never dare do in the height of summer.

Hey, wait a minute! So far all of the ways I have been telling you to find joy involve a retail purchase! I guess I can't complain about the article anymore.

Perhaps you can find your own joy in stimulating the economy, or making a killer buy on some undervalued stock.

Okay, here's some that don't involve an investment:

1. Make a fabulous home-cooked meal for your family, complete with a yummy dessert. Smile at the joy on their faces.

2. Write a letter (a real one, with a stamp) to a friend you haven't seen in ages, or a relative you love dearly. Or to your child, when is the last time you wrote them a letter? Joy multiplied.

3. Sit in a sunny spot by the window, and listen to some of your favorite music. Feel the contentment as it washes over you. sigh.

Go ahead, find your own joy this weekend!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

warm vacations

Since we aren't taking one this year, I am going to reminisce about one we did take, to Key West, back in 2005.Palm trees, sand, tropical drinks, and Corona at lunchtime.

The smell of the ocean, the sound of the wavesthe sand between our toes
Exploring at the Dry Tortugas National ParkAnd capturing the momentsLots of beach timeand late afternoon walksChecking out the tourist trapsBut mostly, just spending unhurried time together.And enjoying each other's companyAnd bringing home lots of memories, to enjoy on a cold winter day.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

spring cleaning

While today does not look anything like spring (4 below zero this morning with blowing snow, and a wind chill that I don't even want to discuss) it is time to think about cleaning.

You will note, I said think about it.

While some people use the beginning of a new year to go through closets and drawers, I have that whole "I have to get my taxes ready" excuse to use until at least the end of February.

But once the tax package leaves my house, I can no longer avoid the inevitable.

I usually start in my office. This year my office was so cramped and crowded I couldn't even work in it. I would haul my laptop and files to the dining room, where I at least had room to push my chair back. And ignore the disaster that awaited me down the hallway.

Here is the desk, a good place to start. ugh.This is when I dream of a house that has more than 1400 square feet. That can just be our house, and not also the home office of ACES. An office with room to dance in, if I felt like it. And big windows. And perhaps a built-in coffeemaker.

But since that ain't happenin' any time soon, I need to adapt to what I have. Or at least do some cleaning, purging, and organizing.

The school directory from 3 years ago? In the recycle bin. The travel ideas I have clipped from magazines? Outta here. (That's what the internet is for!) Are you ever amazed by the things we keep? Thank god at (at least once a year) I have a sensible head on my shoulders and dump the junk. And since it isn't exactly playing outside weather, best to get it done now.

The recycling guys and our trash hauler will groan when they pull up to the house.

Monday, March 9, 2009

time to play

I woke up to that "it feels like a vacation day" feeling. Mike left this morning for a trade show in Vegas, Charlie doesn't have school, and today is the 13th birthday of opening ACES.

Think we will pick up Guitar Hero, World Tour, and spend the day melting some faces!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

job opportunity

Feline Geriatrics. A field you may want to consider, if you are looking for a new profession.

According to the vet, cats are living longer and longer all of the time, due to the fabulous formulations of modern cat food. And caring owners.

But as they age, they need biannual check-ups. To catch hypertension, and hyperthyroidism, and other geriatric illnesses, early on.

Mr. Claude? He is 18 years old. (86 or so in human years). And the vet tells me he doesn't look a day over 10. I guess the thousands of dollars we have invested in him lately are worth it.
And he is still an able office assistant, so he is clearly earning his keep. If only I could teach him how to do taxes.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

fun Target finds

I have waxed poetic (no, not really) before about my love of Target shopping.

Once a month, I grab my 10% off coupon that I earned the previous month, along with my meticulously planned shopping list and stack o' coupons, and spend a couple of hours doing a "big shop".

Yesterday I needed two trips to get it all in (hey, 48 rolls of toilet paper and 37 lbs of cat litter take up a lot of space!)

Since I am saving so much money (my coupon secrets will be revealed in another post) I always feel the need to "treat" myself to something fresh and new, that I probably don't really need, but feel I have earned.

This month? Orla Kiely.

Oh my.

She is a designer of clothing, house goods, and all kinds of fun. I LOVE her colors, her retro funky shapes and styles. You can see more of her at her website:


First off, I needed some new desk goodies:(a peek into what I need to survive in my office reveals pencils, receipt paper rolls, canned air, chocolate, and.... Lock DeIcer?)

Then, I discovered this cheerful new coffee cup.But my favorite item? My new glove/hat/mitten holder. (they aren't just for shoes anymore, not when you live in a tiny house and need all of the storage help you can get.)Just one of the many reasons I love Target-making designer goodies accessible to the masses!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

time flies, part VI

Reading time.

I started reading to Charlie before he was even born. He had bookshelves full of books when he was just a newborn. I would pick up classics at yard sales, and fondly remember reading some of them as a child. Everything founds it's way in to our house. "Blueberries for Sal" was next to "The Velveteen Rabbit" and the Little House series took up residence on the shelf next to "The Boxcar Children" and the "Hardy Boys" original mysteries. Eric Carle was an early favorite author, along with Virginia Lee Burton. Maurice Sendak made us both happy, along with A. A. Milne.

We had story time every night before he went to sleep, and often had reading time duirng the day. He LOVED books. Here was one of his favorites:
He was quite obsessed with any type of construction vehicle at the time, and even went to a Steam Thresher event with Mike and his Grandpa Don in North Dakota-where they had a real Marion Steam Shovel that he got to check out. He came home bursting with stories, in his little boy language, eyes shining and hands waving trying to explain to me just how big Marian was.

Now he is 11.

And reading is not his favorite thing to do. He HAS to read for school, and would much rather be doing just about anything else.

His bookshelves are still full, I keep trying to find THE book or series that will spark his interest in the written word again. He indulges me, and gives them a try, but it has been a while since he read a book that he really loved.

Please tell me this is just a phase, and that he will love to read again someday.

Monday, March 2, 2009

welcome March! and amazing women

Just loved the below zero temps over the weekend-nothing like a great glimpse of spring. Oh, and the biggest winter storm of the season was enough to keep my sis and her son from visiting this weekend. Gee, aren't we lucky to live in Minnesota?

Okay, my obligatory weather whining for the day is over now, back to more interesting things! It is supposed to hit 40 by Friday, so I need to dig out my sandals.

Today I want to highlight those women in my life who are not only incredible moms, but small business women too! It isn't enough for them to manage a home, and their children's lives, they also bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan too. (or not, if they are vegetarians...)

And not coincidentally, they are both named Tracy!

Tracy has 3 children, and has run an in-home day care for more years than I can count. Imagine turning your home into a business that five days a week is full of small children, that you need to not only nurture and care for, but provide learning to as well. I don't know that Tracy has EVER had a sick day, even though I am sure there are many days she wishes she had. Having an off day? Sorry, those little kiddies need you, and the parents are depending on you. I am continually impressed, and amazed, and she just makes me tired. The woman should be wearing a crown, and getting regular massages.

Tracy has 2 sweet girls, and is expecting her third this summer. She has her own Ebay store, and is a trunk keeper for Matilda Jane.
She just had a show over the weekend, that I am quite sure had to be a sales record for the entire company! She used to be a corporate woman, with Imation, but now she is her OWN corporation! In between making lunch for her girls, bringing them to school, and managing her home, she has record sales days!

Talk about multi-taskers, these two women ARE the phrase.

I am honored to be their friends! I could never work that hard.


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