Friday, September 28, 2007

Wildlife seen or heard today

6:00 AM: Coyotes howling at the near full moon.

7:15 AM: Starflower notes a blue jay at the feeder.

7:43 AM: White tailed deer crossing the road.

7:48 AM: A BOBCAT...Yes, a real live bobcat, crossing the road. Woo-hoo!

7:53 AM: More deer. Damn road goats.

4:50 PM: A flock of crows above Sand Creek catches my attention with their carefree flying acrobatics.

6:00 or so: Calvin and I were out looking at the rabbits, when I noticed some movement in the gray dogwoods next to the shower. I went to the house to get the binoculars. I came back, and he told me there was a ruffed grouse next to the shower. I could not see it for the longest time, but then...there it was! How could I miss a bird the size of a young chicken? But there it was, eating gray dogwood berries like they were the nectar of the gods. Amazingly camouflaged, this bird was. And it didn't seem to mind our presence a mere 25 feet away.

I don't think I could have asked for a better ordinary day.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hawk Ridge

Today, for the first time in my life, I volunteered to take an hour bus ride with 27 fifth graders on a field trip. I was doing it for my own selfish reasons, however. After all, we were going to Hawk Ridge, a nationally known birding area that, although it is so close, I had never visited during fall migration.

The good folks at Hawk Ridge have a program where they come to fourth grade classes in the spring and give talks about raptors, usually showing a captive owl or two. Then in the fall, they invite the fifth grade classes, all expenses paid, to come to Hawk Ridge to see migrating raptors and hopefully, get to see a banded one being released.

We got really lucky. We got to see not one, but two juvenile sharp shinned hawks, about the size of blue jays, be released after banding. One lucky girl from the class got to hold the first hawk and release it. The look on her face was precious.

Isn't that bird just a beauty? Those talons, that look in its eyes. I had only seen one or two sharp shinned hawks in my life, so this was a real treat.

The funny thing was, they keep the birds in a cylindrical container after banding to keep them calm. The cylindrical container this bird was held in was...

...two very old STEEL beer cans, Red White and Blue brand, duct taped together!

Both hawks flew away rapidly, apparently glad to flee their recycled confines.

During the course of the class, I kept scanning the skies with my binoculars and was amazed at how many hawks appeared, soaring, riding the thermals. I could hardly tell species, even with binoculars, but there were quite a few accipiters, probably mostly sharp shinned hawks judging by size, and a few buteos. I did learn a bit about how to identify groups of hawks by their flight patterns, and also how they managed to count individual hawks flying over. Apparently there is one narrow point where they leave the thermals, and at this point they fly by in almost a straight line, so individuals can be counted, and presumably identified by experts.

And I kept looking over Lake Superior. The sky was cloudy, and the lake a steel blue gray in sharp contrast to the warm fall colors around the shore. It was beautiful, but as I got my camera out to take a picture, I got the dreaded "replace batteries NOW" message. My replacement batteries, which I had grabbed off my desk at work without testing, did not work either. Rats.

All in all, I thought it was a great field trip and a wonderful opportunity for the kids. But...I was the only parent who went along. I thought other, more normal parents went on class field trips all the time. Was I wrong in that assumption, or do most parents simply not care about anything to do with nature?

Monday, September 24, 2007

more Banning photos

Here's the view from underneath a rock ledge, looking upstream into the Kettle River.

When I asked Mr. Attitude what he liked best about this hike, the first thing he thought of was "the trees growing on the rock. How do they do that?"

I don't know. Life is amazing.

And this is my attempt to show you that we were looking down 100 foot steep slopes to the river. Do you see that little bit of silver among the tree branches? That's it. And it made me nervous, with my offspring. :)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Banning State Park hike

I re-found out today that I live about fifteen miles from one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Just look at that photo; that is the Kettle River, as it flows through a narrow sandstone gorge. And that sky...definitely September in Minnesota.

The entrance to this gem in our state park system is a few hundred yards down the road from the entrance to my kids' school. I pass by it every day. So why is it that I have not hiked these trails in 1 or 2 years?

The salon where I get my hair cut is also very close to the park entrance. So when I made appointments for me and Starflower for this morning, I had an idea. The leaves should be pretty, it's supposed to be a gorgeous day, so why not go for a walk in the park? Mr. Attitude was in, but Calvin decided to go on errands with Dad. Starflower and I got similar, shorter than usual haircuts, then we were off to the park.

We took a trail loop that took us past 100 year old abandoned sandstone quarries, which have grown over with new vegetation; in the woods you could hardly imagine you were standing in an old mine. We passed sheer cliffs of sandstone, with the parallel marks of drills, where miners drilled down and then sent explosives down the small holes, shooting slabs of sandstone away from the formation, so they could be cut and sent away on rail cars.

The whole operation was pretty much through by the 1920's. Buildings were being made by structural steel, not rock (although there is a classic look to a stone building!) so the market collapsed for sandstone. Fortunately, the state acquired the land surrounding these former quarries in the 1970's so it could be preserved as a state park.

We were not alone. There were many people hiking the trails, and I was surprised to encounter a Chinese speaking party, as well as a couple who looked maybe Indian, or Tibetan. Everyone looked like they were enjoying the weather, the river, and the spectacular leaf color.

Geology lesson for the day: This photo was taken looking upward through an elliptical hole in the rock. This kind of hole is called a pothole or kettle, hence the name Kettle River, and is formed due to the actions of a river that was once much larger. Somehow, as the glacial melt river was cutting through this geological fault, which made this sheer canyon of ancient sandstone, some rocks got caught in eddy currents. They spun around and around...and in doing so, cut deep holes in the sandstone. This park is full of evidence of how water acts on stone, in geological time. And how humans act on stone, in less than geological time.

I had forgotten how deeply the river cut through the bedrock in this small area. There were parts of the trail where one side dropped off in a steep hill a hundred feet or more. Which is really fun to hike with an impulsive 5 year old...I kept telling him "Keep on the left side of the trail! The left side!" I think the canyon must approach 200 feet in some areas. I am perhaps over sensitive to heights, so in some parts of the trail I was actually getting dizzy. Again, I had fogotten what geological wonders lurked so close to home.

I have made a sort of goal for myself, since I sprung for the $25 State Park sticker that will allow me entrance to any state park for one year. I would like to hike in Banning State Park, or in slightly more distant Jay Cooke State Park, or cross country ski, once a month. I really have no excuse to not stop by Banning once in a while. Hope it's a good snow year too; I really miss skiing.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Weathery day

photo, once again, courtesy of Starflower. How does she do it?

We had an eventful afternoon here, full of weather events that would have a TV meteorologist's shorts in a bunch. I went home an hour early and it was a good thing I did, because the moment the kids got off the bus and into my waiting car, we were under a severe thunderstorm warning. Which I did not know, since I did not have my up to the minute weather radar online at the moment; our power had been knocked off momentarily enough to make me restart the computer, which took more time than I had between arriving home and driving out to the road to pick up the kids. But it turned out okay; no major weather catastrophes although there was a tornado about 20 miles south of here.

The pond is up a bit. We went out to investigate after the heavy weather had passed, and it looked good, although it's still a foot away from reaching the outlet culvert.

I think, really, that the gods were smiling on us. After all, these heavy rains, 3.75 inches in the last few days, came just after The Hermit finished putting the synthetic roofing paper on the roof of the new house, thus rendering it mostly waterproof.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

potato post

I dug my potatoes well over a few weeks ago, but tonight we had mashed potatoes with meat loaf for dinner and it occurred to me as I was peeling spuds...I had not posted about my potato harvest yet! So here it is.

This northern Minnesota climate and soil is nicely adapted for growing potatoes. We lived for a short time in a town in northwestern Minnesota, and one of the biggest industries there was commercial potato growing for customers like McDonald's. Here I grow potatoes in raised beds because of our extremely rubble-laden soil, courtesy of glacial drift. You'd burn out a garden tiller fast in this soil!

As the picture shows, I don't grow look alike Russets. I get my seed potatoes from Milk Ranch Potatoes in Colorado, who provide the best variety of tubers at the best prices. This year my goal was to try potatoes that were supposed to store well, and be disease and scab resistant.

Clockwise, sort of, from the top: Red Pontiac, which produced this one abnormally softball-sized tater. Dakota Rose, the really red looking one. That name sounds kind of like a prairie lady of the night! Continuing aroung the outer circle we have Banana fingerling potatoes, and Rose Finn Apple. I don't know if I'll grow fingerlings again; I like big potatoes that you can cut up and peel.

Completing the outer circle we have Carola, a yellow skinned yellow fleshed potato, and Purple Viking, which has striking purplish skin and snow white flesh. Inside the circle from left to right, is Desiree, pink skin yellow flesh, and German Butterball, an all yellow potato. I was trying to find a substitute this year for Yukon Gold, which, despite its market popularity, does not produce all that well. I think I like Carola, because it didn't get any scab and it seemed to produce more big tubers than German Butterball. Desiree made some nice shaped tubers, but I think I used most of the big ones to make mashed potatoes tonight. As far as taste and texture, I'm not that discerning. I can't really tell the difference, although I do know homegrown tastes better.

We probably have enough potatoes to last through January or so.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Today's bird in the hand

I got to hold a red breasted nuthatch today! I wanted to get a picture, but by the time I got my camera from the house the little guy was complaining and wanting to fly away, which was a good sign.

The Hermit had told me there was a bird inside the new house, flying against the upper windows trying to get out. I went to the upper floor with Calvin and Mr. Attitude. Calvin found a dead hummingbird. :( Mr. Attitude found the nuthatch, sitting in front of the window looking exhausted. I cradled it in one hand while I climbed down the ladder.

Red breasted nuthatches are tiny. This bird was barely the width of my hand; with my hand clasped around it, only the front of its head and its long bill stood out.

I don't like finding injured birds, but I'm glad this one was able to recover and fly away so quickly. And holding one is just an amazing thing.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

typewriters and banjos

We drove to my dad's today in yet another unfortunately failed attempt to get the RV started. The fuel just isn't getting through. We're not ready to give up yet, although it is frustrating.

Whenever the kids go to Grandpa's house, they act like little Vikings, looting and pillaging anything they can get their hands on. Which is okay with Grandpa; he has been cleaning out years of accumulated stuff, and apparently almost nothing is sacred. Even two old manual typewriters.

I'm old enough to remember writing high school papers on an electric typewriter, and I did even have some experience with the manual ones. My kids have grown up with the computer, never knowing anything but an electronic keyboard and printer. So I am amazed that they are utterly fascinated with these word processing dinosaurs! Really, they brought them in first thing and have been typing steadily since we got home, even fighting over who gets to use the typewriter. The ribbons, amazingly, still put out enough ink to make typing legible. I wonder if we can find replacement ribbons somewhere.

I am also fascinated that these old typewriters were made by gun companies, Remington and LC Smith. Apparently the machining needs of metal gun parts and typewriter components were similar enough that these companies were equipped to do both.

I did find the time to sneak off to the best little music store in the world, Homestead Pickin' Parlor in Richfield, MN, about a 20 minute drive from my dad's house. We go a long way back with this store; when we discovered folk and bluegrass music back about fifteen years ago, we started stopping in, taking lessons, buying instruments, and making friends with the owners Marv and Dawn, and employee Bruce. When I walked in today, Marv, Dawn, and Bruce were there to greet me, and even though I had not seen them in over a year, they were eager to talk with me, ask about the family, and get caught up with what we've been doing lately.

I was there for more than mere chitchat, however. I walked into the instrument room and scanned the banjos, looking for an open back, preferably a Deering Goodtime, which I have been reading about online. I found one, a slightly fancier and pricier model than what I was looking for, and tried it out some. I must explain, at this point I know almost nothing about banjo playing, so "trying it out" meant just strumming the strings, getting the feel of it, listening to the tone. I told Dawn I was interested in learning old time banjo (as opposed to bluegrass banjo; there's a difference in style, but the big difference is bluegrass banjos are ten times as heavy and way more expensive). She said they might have a less fancy version of the banjo I was trying out in stock, but not on display yet. She asked Marv, over the intercom, if they had it; it turns out they did, he just had to set it up (put strings on, make sure bridge is in the right place, etc.) He brought it out in about ten minutes.

Again, I know next to nothing about banjo, but my musical sensibilities were telling me this instrument felt right, sounded right, and I NEEDED TO HAVE IT! I think my mind was made up in about a minute or less, but I at least wanted to look like I wasn't such an impulsive buyer. Which I NEVER am. What I was really thinking about was, okay, I can get this same instrument for maybe $75 cheaper on Ebay, if I get lucky. However... "set up" is important. When an instrument is shipped from a seller you know only by a feedback rating, you never know if it has the right strings, good bridge position, etc. You might end up taking it to a music store and paying $25 or more to get it set up right. Also, you just never know how the instrument has been handled previously, you don't even know what it sounds like! But, most importantly...the store owner just spent ten minutes setting up this particular instrument so I could try it out. I know he knows his instruments, and he knows how to make them sound good, and he will stand behind any instrument he sells. Not to mention they're great people, devoted to good, personal service, and good friends. I would be betraying some of my deeply held values if I set it down and said "I'll see if I can get it cheaper on Ebay! Bye!"

So now I have my Deering Goodtime banjo on layaway. I hope to have it in my hands soon. What a strange feeling; why am I doing this? With so many other instruments, and so little time, why do I feel so strongly compelled to learn something totally new? I don't know. But, I am way excited. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

New old grocery store in town

I stopped by the brand new (just opened today) location of the town grocery store that has been a mainstay of our shopping since way before we moved here. We used to stop there for supplies on a run to the cabin.

Wow. I'm in awe. This is perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing, modern grocery store I have ever set foot in, anywhere. Their old store was probably mid 1970's in character; this one is definitely 21st century. Nice, wide aisles, beautiful produce displays...something I would expect from the suburbs, not a little town like this!

But still I felt a little lost. This did not feel like a small town grocery store, I felt like I should be in some suburb with gated communities. I wandered around, saw a few familiar faces, but it was just plain weird being in such a fancy store! The familiar trip to town just got somehow unfamiliar, for now. I somehow miss the narrow aisles, the small parking lot...

This could, however, represent a vote of confidence for the community. A grocer would not think of building something like this unless he/she had some confidence in the stability of the local economy. So what's here? A Federal prison, for one. There's no shortage of Federal prisoners. And a few Twin Cities commuters, and a few loggers, and a few state employees like me. Maybe a regional hospital in the near future. But anyway, we now have a fancy new K12 school, and a fancy new grocery store.

I was strangely pleased to see that they did not have an "organic" section. There's already one store in town, a very good one, that deals in that, and perhaps that was a gesture to allow the smaller organic store to keep their niche. There's room for both. Or maybe the store's management is conservative in regards to the "organic" movement. Oh well, I will continue to stop at my friends' little organic store for some of our needs, like fair trade, organic coffee.

My shopping habits have definitely changed, however. Within this week we bought locally grown chickens and beef, and filled the freezer. We have also harvested three eggs from our long neglected chicken house. I don't shop the inner aisles as much for meals-in-a-box. I don't think I'll be hitting the meat counter much; we have more than we need in the freezer! And the convenience, deli counter meals that they've expanded upon...don't need 'em.

Part of me misses that little old store...but as long as I continue to see the familiar friendly faces in the new store, it's okay. No strip malls in town yet!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Tell me why I thought it would be no problem to take Mr. Attitude to the doctor's office for his vaccinations, which he needed by the 24th, or a philosophical objection, to be admitted to kindergarten.

In retrospect, it would have been a lot easier to get the objection notarized and be done with it. That's what I did with Starflower. And I do have one friend whose daughter died of reactions to vaccines, so vaccination is a careful choice around here.

But this is not about the choice. This is about, WHY CAN'T MY KIDS BE NORMAL ONCE IN A WHILE?

After I picked them up from school (Starflower and Attitude; Calvin took the bus) we had about 45 minutes to kill before the appointment. So, I thought, why don't we go down to Robinson Park along the river and do a short hike? I always wanted to see how far the trail went along the river, and I heard there was a bat cave somewhere in the vicinity. So off we went. We made it to what must be the end of the trail, and what looked at the surface to be the entrance to a pretty darn big bat cave. Since I personally don't like bats, and we had to get to the clinic on time, I discouraged Starflower and Mr. Attitude from further investigation. But, oh for cool. I like rock outcrops, and a CAVE! wow.

So off to the clinic we went, where we were informed that one doctor had been called out for a birth (totally forgivable) so they were running late. However, Mr. Attitude and waiting rooms do not get along well. He played with the toys they had for a while, but he was more interested in the public phone, and trying to turn off the lights to the room. I kept my temper in check.

We were finally called in to an examining room, where I was reminded why it is inadvisable to bring more than one offspring into such situations. They had raided the rubber gloves, and were filling them at the sink, when I drew the line.

I was just trying to get Mr. Attitude to sit still. I was just maybe falsely expecting some kind of reasonable behavior. I warned him three times. But all hell broke loose when I snapped and said "Okay. We will NOT go for ice cream on the way home! You had been warned!"

So I was left holding a hopelessly out of control five year old who was crying for ice cream, while in turn the nurse came in and did her thing, and then the doctor came in and tried to ask me all the standard questions, which I could barely hear over the screaming. Then came the shots. I would have liked to ask a few more questions about why these things were necessary, but I cannot carry a conversation when my kid is screaming his lungs off.

Then, as we were leaving, I realized the nurse had not given me the very vaccination form I had come to get completed, so my son could stay in kindergarten. I went back into the examining room halls, but everyone had disappeared. I was in tears at that point. Oh well, I will tell them to forward all the necessary info the the school. We had done our part.

Did I tell you Starflower, when the nurse was trying to check Mr. Attitude's blood pressure, was pumping on his elbow?

I did a good job. I kept my composure, although strangling my offspring certainly seemed like a possibility. Good thing we were in a semi public place.


first fall fire

Predicted weather for last night: low of 31 degrees, scattered frost.

Temperature here this morning: 22 degrees F.

We knew it was coming. After all, whenever low temperatures below 40 are predicted, 99 percent of the time there will be frost here.

We covered up the tomatoes, but we'll see.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Random moments

My stepson was here today, and now our (new house) roof is just over 3/4 protected from downpours. In a surprising twist, my dad said on the phone the other day he would like to come here one weekend and help with building! This is the same dad who came up here 13 years ago when we were building the cabin...err, house that we are living in...and helped finish the roof after The Hermit broke his ankle in a fall from the roof. Actually, I can take credit for most of the actual roof covering on this place. I specialized in it, in my day. But I'm not about to take on metal roofing on a 12:12 pitch. And I don't know if I want my dad up there either!

I've been doing laundry in the wringer washer again, for the last month or so, and hanging it out to dry. Sure saves a lot in laundromat fees, and I actually enjoy spending the time in my backyard instead of that beacon to the lowest common denominator that we call a laundromat. Today when I went out to the clothesline when I got home from work, I got there just in time to see a Cooper's hawk swooping just above the clothesline, chasing some some small unfortunate bird. It all happened so fast, all I saw for ID was a long barred tail, crow sized bird with bluish gray feathers. It took my breath away.

Speaking of taking my breath away, I woke up several times last night, gasping for breath. Dang it, I think I may have sleep apnea, or maybe some anxiety thing. My sleep has been a bit more disturbed in the last month or so, for some unknown reason. And I'm having some really epic, vivid dreams when I'm sleeping. Weird.

I'm within 75 pages of finishing my first 500 page book in a long time. I think the last long book I read was "Prairyerth" by William Least Heat Moon. I don't even think I finished that one. What I'm reading now is "Collapse" by Jared Diamond. Fascinating stuff. He tells how various societies have made choices, or were the victims of conditions they knew not how to control, that led to their ultimate demise or success. I'm just getting to the good part, where he writes about how this all relates to our modern day global society. I really wish more college textbook writers would have his knack for telling a story, and for repeating the important points. Reading this book has been a real window into the history of human society for me. I especially liked his accounts of the Viking settlement in Greenland; I share some blood with the Norse.

I cleaned out the chicken house on Saturday; that is, after helping The Hermit clean out the composting outhouse. What a sh*t day, I tell ya! The composting outhouse really isn't as bad as it sounds; a couple months later, the stuff smells all earthy and nothing at all like a toilet. And, in the pile from last year, I found several very vigorous looking tomato plants. Few fruits, but they're giving it a try! So on to the chicken is home to very few chickens these days, but in a week or so we're moving our chicks from the chicken tractor to the chicken house. There also reside within the fence three very mean, ornery Toulouse geese, whom I'm secretly wishing would be massacred by some predator. But if that hasn't happened in four years and two orders of chickens, it's not going to happen. So, I entered the enclosure, made a few threatening gestures with my compost fork, and they got the idea and left me alone.

The chicken house had not been properly cleaned out for over a year, so it was layers of scattered hay and chicken droppings. all dried out to create a fine dust that penetrated the air as soon as I started attacking the tough layers with the compost fork. I would take a deep breath of fresh air, go in, loosen all I could, go out and wait for the dust to settle, and go back in to shovel it out. Luckily, Calvin freely offered his help, and with two hands the job got much lighter. Did I say "freely?" Actually, it involved a bonus to the allowance. I tend to reward work that is initially offered up without an ulterior motive.

We were perhaps rewarded for that work tonight; there is a single baby chick in the chicken house! There is one very broody Buff Orpington hen who did not leave her post the entire time we were cleaning; I'm hoping more of the dozen or more eggs she's sitting on will hatch.

In my leisure time, I've been contemplating taking up the banjo. I love the sound of it, have been listening to a lot of Bela Fleck lately, and just think it's time for something new, musically.

So can a blog post get any more rambling than this? That's life, it rambles around from here to there.

Friday, September 07, 2007

First week down

Well, we made it through the first week of school. I'm sure the kids are going to stay up late and sleep in; this 6:30 bus routine is hard on everyone. I know our school district covers a wide area, but there has got to be a better way than to have kids on the bus so long. I could drop them off at school at 8:00, on my way to work, but technically I'm supposed to be at work at 8:00, and I think my boss was starting to look down on me for showing up at 8:20 or later last year. Not that anything critical gets done in that first half hour...

Starflower is feeling much better now, after getting a penicillin shot for strep throat on Wednesday. She attended school on Thursday and Friday. I often think, just a hundred years ago a little infection like that could have led to lifelong complications, or worse. Now it's just an inconvenience.

I have so much I want to post about, everything from gardening to philosophy to music, all the stuff that's in my blog description up there, but I'm having a hard time finding the time these days. Bear with me, soon the long nights of darkness will be upon this land and I will have much more time for contemplation.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

first day, minus one

The boys, meeting the bus before sunrise for a 1 and 1/2 hour drive. I guess that's the price we pay for living out here. I didn't notice Calvin's bored look until I downloaded the photo. Mr. Attitude at least looks enthusiastic. I had no trouble waking them this morning.

But where is Starflower? Unfortunately, she started spiking fevers and headaches yesterday afternoon. :( I was hoping it was a short term thing, but I was up at 3 AM fetching medicine. However, when she woke up in the morning, after I convinced her to not ride the bus, she swore she felt fine. Poor thing, I think she just didn't want to miss the first day of school. She was so convincing that I dropped her off on the way to work, on my planned stop to witness Mr. Attitude's first moments in the classroom. She swore she was fine then, and went right off into her classroom.

I proceeded to Mr. Attitude's classroom; he had not arrived yet, but a few minutes later his dutiful big brother led him to the kindergarten door. I watched as the children arrived, mostly timidly. The first day of school, ever, is a big thing! But my Mr. Attitude, not to brag or anything, exuded perhaps the most confidence of any kid I saw. He was ready to take on anything kindergarten had to offer. I wish I had some of his self confidence sometimes!

I had almost forgotten Starflower had been sick, when I got a call at work from the school nurse just before the end of school, at 3:00. She again had a headache and fever of 103. So I told the nurse to keep her there, not to send her on the bus, I would come and pick her up. An hour and a half bus ride would be too much. She asked if I wanted the boys to ride the bus or come and wait to be picked up, but I thought they could just as well ride the bus. Good experience for Mr. Attitude, good reconnection with friends for Calvin. To the nurse's credit, she went out and met Calvin and explained why Starflower would not be riding the bus home. I was worried that he would worry about her.

So everyone had a good day, except for Starflower. Mr. Attitude adapted to kindergarten very well, and Calvin's teacher happens to like camping, fishing, playing guitar, and watching The Red Green Show. He even has a picture of Red, Harold, and Bill on his desk. Calvin is a walking encyclopedia of Red Green episodes, so they should get along nicely.

I'm a bit worried that Starflower might have Lyme disease, again. It's presenting the exact same way as it did before. The Hermit was diagnosed earlier this summer. Actually, I've been wondering if I might have it again as well; I've been way too achy all of a sudden, plus I'm having weird dreams and insomnia, which I have not had for a long time. I think it's unfortunate that a lot of the literature focuses on the "bulls eye rash" as the definitive symptom of Lyme's; 1/4 of all patients never get it, including myself, and it probably prevents some doctors from diagnosing the disease early enough. I never had the rash, though a blood test diagnosed me three years ago. Who knows how long I had it before that. I might take Starflower to the doctor tomorrow.

Monday, September 03, 2007

back to...

This is a bittersweet weekend around Sand Creek, and around Minnesota. Hundreds of thousands of kids are saying goodbye to summer, and hello to a new school year tomorrow. Yeah, Minnesota actually has a law, created by the resort industry, that sets the beginning of school at the day after Labor Day, except in very rare circumstances involving religious holidays. Okay with me, I really would not want school to start any earlier, given our short summers.

This is a significant beginning of school for our family, because my youngest son, Mr. Attitude, starts kindergarten tomorrow. He's more than ready, being he turns six in November, and he seems to have a great memory for little factoids. But at the same do you let the youngest one go? The plan is to have all of them get on the bus at the ungodly hour of 6:30 AM (Is there such a thing as a "godly hour?") and I will make a stop at the school on my way to work, roughly 8:00 AM, to see my youngest enter the hallowed halls of kindergarten. And cry, and take a few pictures. And wish his teacher the best. I hope she's not expecting him to act like his sister, whom she had in her class three years ago. But I know she's the best kindergarten teacher there, and he'll be okay.

So we celebrated by having a favorite dinner, Mighty Cauliflower with shrimp, adapted from a recipe from an AWOL blogger, Melissa, who I miss a lot. The cauliflower was homegrown, the only one I have successfully grown in two years of trying, along with homegrown garlic, oregano, and basil. Yummm....along with pasta and an Italian cheese blend. I sauteed the shrimp in olive oil for a few minutes before adding to everything else. The shrimp were from Mexico, a bit better than Indonesia or Thailand, the other choices at the store. Another blogger who knows about these things informs me that the shrimp are starting to run on the St. Johns River in Florida...funny, I remember catching them in early August there when I was a kid.

Today was kind of laid back, kind of a day to relish the pleasures of living here. I saw a golden winged warbler, which is a lifer for me, although I've probably seen them and missed them before. I tried to play bouzouki and mandolin, without much luck. I'm thinking of taking up the banjo; I found a cheap one at the music store at the mall on Sunday that I might buy.

Anyway, I have to run, have to watch one more Pink Panther cartoon with the boys before the 9:30 bedtime (late, I know!) Don't want to miss that moment.