Tuesday, August 19, 2008


We have finally crossed the threshold of adulthood and bought our own house. After months of looking at nasty foreclosed properties which were in our price range, we found a nice little historic gem in a cute Minnesota town.

It has just what we wanted... I wanted something with charm that we could afford with an acutal yard .... Dave wanted a place for the television, wireless internet, and intramural hockey. We'll both be satisfied.

So far, we've made 9 trips with the pickup loaded and 6 trips with the car loaded down. Nearly every time we've unloaded, we've had a neighbor come by to say hello and tell us about the other neighbors. The neighborhood seems like a good mix of people, and it seems like everyone knows at least something about someone else on the block.

So pardon the delay while we get settled...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Duck, Duck, Gray Duck?

After being around children most of the summer, I have discovered the game of choice for kindergarteners is one called Duck, Duck, Gray Duck. For those of you who grew up outside the Minnesota-Canada-Dakota region, that's Duck, Duck, Goose to you.

Why the difference? No one I've asked seems to know. When asked why it's Gray Duck, you'll get a wierd stare and a shrug. "That's just the way we've always done it."

Internet sources are no help either. Ever-changing Wikipedia has an entry under Duck, Duck, Goose that notes the name difference, but no explanation. Search for Duck, Duck, Grey Duck and you'll get some strongly worded arguments and opinions, but no reasoning. Someone somewhere down the line probably thought the poor goose was being singled out and unfairly discriminated against. Children everywhere grow up with a negative connotation of the Goose. So, they decided to remove the goose, and instead, pick on a duck merely because of the COLOR of its feathers. Hmm...

So, if we decide to have children in this area, we are pretty much guaranteed to be exposed to a familiar game with a slight name change which doesn't bother us.

But when it comes to other things Minnesota, I simply refuse to call a casserole a hot dish. You've got to draw the line somewhere.

One Room School Camp

If a child signs up for a school camp during the summer, it's a given that they enjoy school and learning. That made our 1876 One Room School Camp an easy, enjoyable week.
As you can see, the children, mostly girls, showed up absolutely unprompted everyday in complete prairie attire. There are dozens of "Little House on the Prairie" camps around here, and these girls had all been to one somewhere before. It's refreshing to see something somewhat historical and intellectual motivating kids other than the pop culture tween icon of the moment. Maybe it's in the water--prairie events up here do attract the people--Little House on the Prairie: the Musical with none other than Melissa Gilbert as Ma Ingalls opens this weekend in town. They have already extended the run and sold out shows.

Every morning, we would walk down to the one room schoolhouse and go through a series of lessons ranging from math to reading to elocution. My coworker Alyssa and I tag-teamed the camp.

A few highlights were the spelling bees, writing with a quill and ink, and the big school pageant that came at the end of the week.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Happy 50th to Bonnie!

Happy 50th Birthday to my friend Bonnie, who celebrated in high style last weekend in Shreveport. It was a disco party, and I got to help from afar by doing the invitations. It looks like it was a blast. When the paper covers your event, I guess you know you are really somebody.

But, she is.
I met Bonnie while covering a story in Shreveport. She and her husband, Stuart, got me involved in Rotary Club. Bonnie has an admirable sense of community service and wholeheartedly lives out the 4-way test of Rotarians. She and Stuart are fun friends that Dave and I enjoy being with. I could always count on a smile and a chat--and maybe even pizza--if I dropped by their business any random afternoon on Kings Highway. We miss them for the fun and the good advice they would dispense if asked.

Happy 50th, Bonnie!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Schwartz Summer Visit

After a sub-zero visit from the Schwartz family in February, the family decided to test out Minnesota in summer. This time our nephew Jake was in tow for a grand tour of the town. This visit did mean touring, and we did alot of it--visiting the Landing, walking and riding rides at the Mall of America, swimming at the indoor waterpark--Waterpark of America, shopping at the huge IKEA, and cheering on the Twins as they beat the White Sox in a really good game.

We visited a variety of restaurants, but none had as much anticipation attached as did the visit to the Town Talk Diner on Lake Street. It was recently featured on the Food Network, and to borrow a line from Dave--we hope that's where it will stay. The idea of the diner is to combine the regular greasy spoon feel with edgy gourmet food... like Lamb chops served with grits or Chicken served with Wild Rice Waffles. We ate our fill of fried Cheese Curds and fried pickles, but we don't think we'll be back for a second visit. The rest of the food and service was decidedly sub-par.

But the visit, though, gets two thumbs up!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Who busted a Grumpy?

In case you don't know "who busted a Grumpy" is 10-year-old boy speak for the obvious. I heard this phrase many, many, many times during my recent experience assisting with a camp at a local nature center. It was always repeated in a sing-song voice by a chorus of boys for no apparent reason other than they like to talk toilet. Here are the little angels, showing their best side:

They really were good kids... and if they misbehaved, Queen Pauline took them on a 2-mile hike around the Lake. We've gone canoeing (no one tipped over), learned knife safety (only one injury), set up debris shelters (one for boys and one for girls, of course), learned how to use a compass in the woods, learned how to start a fire, and of course, went on hikes ("We didn't really think she'd make us hike all the way around the lake").

But my favorite phrase of the week is one we used when passing out the daily popsicle: "You get what you get, and don't throw a fit."

That would be a good one for several adults I know...