Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Welcome to the World of Orthodontia

Yesterday Kelsey got a palatal expander. It's an orthodontic appliance that is glued to the teeth with a wide, metal band across the roof of the mouth. Each evening, you use a key to turn the expander so that it will spread the teeth farther apart so as to correct alignment and bite.

About a month ago, the orthodontist took impressions of her teeth and explained everything to her. She was fine, asking lots of questions and generally being her happy, inquisitive self.

But yesterday she was nervous. Kayleigh had told her horror stories of her own expander, which added to the apprehension. Kelsey wrapped her little body around mine and whimpered until the time came to get it done. She dragged me to the exam room. The assistant was very patient and kind. She got me a chair so I could sit where Kelsey could see me. Kelsey asked tons of questions about every tool and squirt of goop on the tray. The assistant answered every one, which was very decent of her. Lots of medical types give you the quick, pointless answer ("That's what I'm going to use to put your expander in") and then tell you to open up so you'll stop asking questions.

Well, it went off without any difficulties. It didn't hurt, the glue didn't make her gag. Once it was in, she rinsed her mouth, and I hugged her. She said it wasn't bad at all, and by evening, she was back to her bouncy self.

But she was talking funny, shlooping spit, and today, finding it hard to chew. They put that thick plastic over your chewing teeth, so it's pretty slippery, and your tongue can't reach your food very well, which makes chewing even harder, and swallowing quite a task. She picked at it with her finger nails and said she didn't want it in her mouth.

Can hardly blame her.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

St. Paul

So, we set off in the morning for St. Paul, fortified by The World's Best Doughnuts (and possibly the worst coffee--it tasted like beef).

The ride was relatively fast, the kids stayed happy, no one needed to pee until lunchtime, and I passed the time reading more Elizabeth Berg and counting dead foxes (4).

We pulled over at a gas station with the world's biggest parking lot for food from the cooler. There was a family standing around their van, up on jacks, while a rather plump man crawled underneath, climbed out, wandered around, and wrung his greasy hands on a filthy towel. We stood there watching, eating our granola bars, trail mix, cheese, chocolate chip cookies, and milk. I felt like I should offer them some food, but there was a pizza hole and a sandwich pit at the gas station, which presumably sold packaged food, as well. They didn't exactly look starving, either. Still....

We switched drivers and finished the drive to St. Paul. The Google directions seemed to take us a rather silly way to our hotel, but we followed them. We stayed at the Best Western Bandana Square. What a hilarious name. It's part of an old train repair yard, so the conference rooms are named after lines, and there's a huge train out front. The original beams show, and so do some tracks in the floor. Supposedly there is a lot more trainy stuff there, but I wasn't really in the mood to go exploring.

After our cheap stays in the north country, staying in St. Paul was a bit of a knife twist. Our room was quite nice--spacious, nicely decorated, clean, bright. Then we pulled out the computer, both of us desperate to get back online. I mean, it had been a couple of days! It didn't work. At all. Eric called the desk, who gave him a number to call. They sent out a repair guy--on the weekend--just for us. That's dedication to your customers. Geekboy fiddled and wandered in and out of our room. Turns out the wireless worked fine--until you stepped into our room. You could sit in the hall and it worked fine. You could sit by the pool and it worked fine. But you couldn't sit on our bed, which is where I do my best work. Ahem.

They offered us a different room, but we were settled. I didn't think it was *that* important. In the evening, I took the laptop and sat by the pool while Eric and Kelsey went in the water. Which brought up another issue. Eric got out of the FREEZING water after half an hour or so. His swimming trunks were white with a couple of swirls of light blue. Kelsey's precious itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini was white, no polka dots. What the flock? She was in tears.

Lack of internet was dealable. Cold water--well, a minor complaint. But bleaching our suits? The final nail. Can you imagine what that was doing to their skin? And their hair! Eric's chest is still like a Brillo pad. Kelsey's hair is still straw. It's vile! Eric discussed it with the manager, who didn't give us all our money back, but over half. Talk to my pocket book, baby. Mama likes.

But, anyway--

Eric's dad, John, lives a quick drive from the hotel. We had a nice afternoon visit and then picked up his special friend, Diane, at her house, where we covetously looked at her yard. Dinner was at The Good Earth. I had the Mediterranean Greek Salad, which I thought was a stupid name for a salad, but it tasted good. We all had dessert, the last fling of our vacation, or so we thought.

We had a brief goodbye at John's. He seemed pretty worn out. He's doing pretty well for someone who's 91.

I loved his apartment. He lives in a retirement complex, but not assisted living. He does have someone come and clean and cook a bit. His bathroom was fabulous--nice and spacious with a walk-in shower. That would help my mom a lot.

Next day we visited some more. He gave me a copy of some stories he's been writing about his boyhood, gave the girls some books they were admiring, and gave Eric a painting that someone in the family painted a very long time ago. John didn't know much about the painter, just that he was related on his dad's side and lived in the Bahamas, which John called Bahaymas.

We left around lunch, and stopped just down the street at a cafe whose name I've forgotten already. It's a family joint with huge servings and tempting desserts. We ate too much and all had dessert again, then set off for home under a darkening sky.

I didn't floss my teeth even once the whole trip. Now that's a vacation.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

John's B-day and more of Grand Marais

We visited my mom yesterday afternoon. I cleaned the poop off the floors and toilet seats. I left the curious pink dollop alone; I just didn't have the stomach to deal with it yesterday. Maybe later today.

She didn't get out of her chair the entire time we were there. She just kept saying she hadn't felt well all week and kept her hand on her nitro patch. She said her chest had been aching and it scared her.

I never know what to say.

Continuing the trip:

We had a voyageur canoe trip reserved on the Poplar River at 8:30 a.m. It was a chilly morning after a cold night. The sky was a beautiful blue and the sun made everything look alive and cheerful. We arrived at Sawtooth Mountain, filled out our paperwork, tightened our life jackets, then set off on a walk to the river. It was a pleasant walk through the woods. Our guide chatted with us about the bear he came across the night before.

The river was very shallow and had almost no current. We didn't see much wildlife: a heron who didn't like us being there, and a pair of mergansers who were equally displeased. There was a beaver house. I was surprised at the lack of turtles. Wisconsin has lots of turtles.

The paddling made us all tired, but it was not a long trip. It was an easy way to introduce the kids to canoeing. Having other people there made them less whiny, I think.

We had to carry our oars with us, and Eric used his as a walking stick. It really helped him a lot, and he decided that a walking stick would be a great thing to have on these many walks we were taking. So he got one in his head--light metal, retractable, with a rubber foot and a camera mount so he could use it as a monopod. Yup, he dreamed up quite a tool, and actually found one at a store in Grand Marais. Then sticker shock sank in and he decided he could just make do. Or, better yet, make his own.

Today was our pie day, which I blogged about previously. I will say that our server looked and sounded an awful lot like a young Matthew Broderick.

We didn't have any firm plans for the rest of the day, so we just started driving north and figured we'd stop when something looked fun. Laurie had recommended a walk along the Kadunce River, so we stopped there.

We ended up looking at rocks on the beach mostly. The river looked nice to walk down, but the kids were sick of walks. So we sat on the hot rocks trying to stay warm and trying to leave a few on the beach.

After a bit, we went down to Judge Magney State Park. There was almost no one there. The walk was short, so the kids were appeased. Then we got down the path a little more, and the sign said the walk was strenuous with many changes in elevation and a long set of stairs. Hmm... well, we were here now, the kids can just shut it.

It was a fun walk. I wouldn't call it strenuous, but it was a lot of up and down. There were 176 steps on the stairs in one spot.

We counted. And if you count the rather long boardwalk, it was 179 steps. Still, the payoff was great. There were two falls beside each other.

One went down a huge circular hole, the bottom of which has never been found. It's called Devil's Kettle. The other was just a falls with a deep bottom, and people had shown up to swim and dive there. It looked very fun and scary. We went around behind the falls and stood at the top of them. It was a fun spot. Kayleigh fell on one of the rocks right at the head of the falls. I about died. I kept my composure when she looked at me and simply asked if she had hurt herself. She was OK.

We headed back to town for more pie, and I overheard one of the waiters telling some people about a little overlook with no walking if you didn't want any. That sounded just right for my tired children. Off we went after our pie. Eric was delighted with it. It's along the Gunflint Trail and overlooks Grand Marais and the Sawtooth Mountains.

We briefly wandered downtown again, then headed back to our motel for some rest before we set off the next day for St. Paul to see Eric's dad.

Today is Eric's dad's birthday, by the way. Happy day, John!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Up the Shore

After a good night's sleep, we packed up and headed up Minnesota's North Shore. There are scads of state parks along Lake Superior. I read about them and other spots before we set out, but with the day upon us, it was time to choose. We stopped at Gooseberry Falls first.

Gooseberry Falls had a visitor center with wonderfully large and clean toilets, an education center, and, naturally, a gift shop where you could buy stuffed animals of Minnesota's wildlife that were made in China. The walks were easy; not a lot of stairs, not long, wide. There were not a lot of people there when we showed up in the morning, but by lunch time, the parking lot was absolutely jammed.

We started off on a path toward the falls. We ended up on a large bridge that overlooked them and the people playing in the water. The bridge took you across the river and had another bridge below the road to take you across the highway. No one else was going this way, which was good reason to us to continue. We wandered and pointed and played and scrambled around on rocks and in water and over falls and next to falls and below falls. It was fun. Eric was worried about his balance and hurting himself or someone else if he fell on them and damaging the camera. We let him trail behind. His sore belly and lack of happy drugs were keeping him down a little. Kelsey was happy to play, but Kayleigh definitely wanted to be moving along more quickly.

We found a necklace in the water and turned it in to the lost and found. It didn't have any dirt on it at all. It must have been very recently lost. It was a silvery metal, in the shape of a shark tooth, with the name Devon on it.

I caught a minnow in a shallow part of the river. Kelsey seemed impressed. Kayleigh asked how I did it. Such miracles mothers are capable of.

We went down to the beach for some lunch and a dip in the cold Superior water. The beach was called Agate Beach. Apparently agate hunting is quite a past-time. It was a lovely view. Kayleigh wouldn't so much as dip a toe in the water, of course, so she sat on the beach asking when we were going to go.

There was a little pebbly dune where the river washed into the lake. You had to get in the water about two feet to get across to it, so Kelsey and I did. She didn't stay long, but I wanted to wander. It hurt. The rocks were hot, and some were sharp. It was not a very pleasant walk, but at least I had bragging rights.

Kelsey managed to attract about two dozen leeches while she was in the water. She was about as freaked out as she ever gets. I didn't find any on me. We called it Leech Beach after that little episode. She was not amused.

We managed to spend the entire day there. We hadn't intended to. But by the time we left, we were tired. Kelsey had a case of leechy heebie-jeebies and a slight sunburn. We decided to go find our motel in Grand Marais and get some dinner. So off we went.

We stayed at the Grand Marais Inn. It was one of the cheaper places around. The photos on the Web didn't impress me much, but it had a fridge and a microwave, two beds and a toilet. Unless the place was an absolute hole, it would be worth it.

It was not a hole. It turned out to be just fine. Our nonsmoking room had a cigarette burn in the carpet, but it didn't smell and it was clean. The proprietor was from Wales. He's been here a while, making his accent most peculiar.

My editor recommended pizza at Sven & Ole's. It sounded like a good idea. The kids will eat it, and it would probably be cheaper than anywhere else. It was good pizza. It had very fluffy, soft crust. The kids did, in fact, like it, but it was not cheap. At least we got a free bumper sticker. No, we're not putting it on our car.

Next came the Ben Franklin that Laurie had recommended. It was her favorite store in the world, she said. Well, who can miss that? It was about 30 feet from Sven & Ole's and open for another 20 minutes. It was good it wasn't open longer than that, or the kids would have bought out the store. They have anything you need and quite a lot you don't need but might want anyway. A wool Norwegian sweater? Yours for $325. Whoopie Cushion? Lay down your dollar. Bazooka Joe gum? Fillet knife? Scrapbook paper? Swimming pool? Plastic poop? Hairbrush? Ski pants? Moccasins? Water shoes? Rain boots? Snow boots? Cowboy boots? Fake Crocs? Flip-flops? No problem. They even have your size. Believe me. This store was absolutely jam-packed full of stuff. Not exactly barrier-free for all the narrow aisles and assorted merchandise falling off the capacity shelves. It was a scream. I'd've lived there when I was a kid. As I say, thank goodness they were closing in 20 minutes. We had to drag the kids out as it was. Kayleigh bought three airplanes; two balsa wood planes and one foam one which she later said was "really crappy." She and Kelsey had fun playing with them in the nearly empty parking lot of our motel.

After Ben Franklin, we wandered across the street to the little harbor in town. It was another rocky beach with some young gulls squawking and peeping. And was it cold. Ugh. UGH! It was cold. Bleh--it was cold. Very conveniently, a coffee shop was open on the corner, where we ordered three decaf mochas and a hot chocolate. There was a slight misunderstanding, and Kelsey ended up with a full-caffeine mocha. We figured it out before she got past her whipped cream, thankfully, and they made her a new one with decaf. Stimulants are one thing that child absolutely does not need. We walked around downtown Grand Marais--it doesn't take long--and headed back to our WiFi-less motel.

I read "We Are All Welcome Here," by Elizabeth Berg. She writes chick novels. I like them. My favorite of hers is still "Talk Before Sleep," about a woman and some friends caring for their mutual, dying friend. "We Are All Welcome Here" is about a girl at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement and her paralyzed mother who lives in an iron lung. It didn't sound like it would be very good, but it made me cry and made me think and made me wish she'd done a little better with it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Another Day in Duluth

Yesterday was our 15th wedding anniversary. We went out for pie, but we had some stragglers with us: our kids and three of their friends. Afterwards, our kids went off with the friends, and we had the night to ourselves. We hadn't planned things this way, but it turned out nicely.

Recounting our trip:

After our "deluxe continental breakfast" at the Super 8, we went back into town. Fabulous Laurie told us about a spot along Skyline Drive where there were gardens and a tower to climb, so we headed there first. It was a fantastic drive, higher and higher on a twisty road that overlooked the harbor. We didn't actually know where we were going because I forgot what Laurie had said, so we ended up driving a bit more than we needed to, but no one seemed to mind. Kayleigh was enjoying seeing the residential neighborhood up on the hill. She decided it would be a great place to live.

Finally, though, we stopped and asked a local how to get there. And we got there.

The gardens were very nice. There was a caretaker there, and the sprinklers were sprinkling. I don't think we have anything like it here. If we have a park, it's grass, and that's that. The only tended public gardens in our area seem to be the occasional boulevard and Olbrich Botanical Gardens, which is huge and dull.

Here, there was a path that led past flowers up a little rise to a shelter. Just past the shelter, the path split to take you to the tower or around the park. We went to the tower first. It looked sort of medieval, made of stone with a metal gate. The kids set off at once, but Eric and I lingered to take pictures.

At the top of each set of winding stairs, there is a place to look out the tower over the hillside. Laurie warned that it smelled of pee, and Eric agreed that it did. I have a peculiar sense of smell, so it smelled like a wood fire to me. There was quite a lot of bird poop in there, which hopefully accounted for the pee smell.

We made our way up and snapped some pics. Eric set the camera timer, and put the camera on his hat to get our picture. Then we gals wandered down while Eric stayed to take more pictures.

Along the other path, there are more gardens and big rocks and other, more primitive paths that spider web out. In one area, there was a peace bell, which I rang. The kids thought I'd be arrested or something. I told them it was there to ring. We wandered further down and around the path, where a woman was studying and scrawling notes and likely wishing we'd leave, which we did.

Just as we were about to set off down another path into seeming wilderness, Eric meandered past the shelter. He couldn't hear me shout, so I called him on the phone. Those cell phones are handy occasionally. He met us at the start of a tributary, if you will, to the Superior Hiking Trail, and we went exploring.

The rocks were huge and flat, the plants were tall. There was a fair amount of scat around, too. It was a fun little area that wound itself back to the parking lot. It was a cool spot to visit.

Next we headed out over the aerial bridge to see what there was to see. There is a long strip of land called Minnesota Point with harbor on one side and lake on the other. It was surprisingly residential. Farther out, there was quite a large park. We played on the beach in the hot sand, looking over the water and wondering why there were so few people around.

It was on this beach in Duluth that Kayleigh learned how to skip a rock. I'd tried to teach her, Eric had tried, too. Today was the day. She was convinced she was no good at things like that, but after a few tosses, one of the rocks skipped. She was shocked and happy and tried again, and it worked again. Too fun.

We put Kelsey's sandal in the water to see where the water would take it. She was interested until it started getting too far away. Heh.

Had a tailgate lunch, then a trip to the aquarium. It was interesting. It was all about fresh water and the Great Lakes. We got to feed trout, pet freshwater stingrays (they felt nothing like the salt water variety), and pet sturgeon, which were very bony. After a while, SCUBA divers went down the 26-foot tank to feed the bottom-feeders. They go in once a week to clean things and feed the big fish. It was pretty fun to watch.

Next it was time for a boat tour. It was nice to sit for a while. I think the kids were bored. We toured the harbor and saw some huge ships and tons of cargo. It was interesting, but not so interesting that I'd ever do it again.

We also saw a replica of the Nina, one of the ships that Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World. Here it is. It's so little it's amazing it made it.

We went back to our hotel for some rest and dinner, then wandered around downtown again, playing on the rocks and watching Eric take pictures. As the sun set, we definitely needed some rest.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


We made fantastic time despite having to stop to pee. Eric was very obliging and tried hard to stretch his bladder to a new, astounding capacity.

We got to our Super 8 in West Duluth shortly before dinner time. We opted for the cheap motel away from the lovely downtown area to save money. It was about half what hotels on the lakeshore walk or downtown cost. It was a mere five-minute drive, and parking in Duluth is 25 cents an hour. Hard to beat.

We put our stuff in our room and headed into town for dinner. Eric had only been to Duluth once before, for about 20 minutes, for ice cream, so he was rubber-necking big time. We walked past Hell's Kitchen, and I wished I'd brought my shirt. It has a 1950s-looking couple smiling and looking heavenward. It says, "We're all going to Hell!" They look so happy and wholesome. The kids are terribly embarrassed by it. Anyway, we ate at the Green Mill. I know it's a stupid chain, but it's good, and we don't have them here. Even the kids liked it. Kayleigh and Eric each had the world's biggest calzones, I had spinach tortelloni in a delicious tomato cream sauce, and Kelsey went with pizza and Mello Yellow. It's pricey, and you get no extras like soup or salad, but with the portions as tremendous as they are, you really don't need soup or salad to fill up on.

After dinner, we wandered over to the candy shop where it became apparent that Eric was going to lose his battle to maintain his weight on this trip. The kids were--well, they were like kids in a candy shop. I snatched a few samples of fudge and just got a walking stick--a chocolate-covered pretzel rolled in pecans.

Calories in tow, we crossed the slip bridge and looked at the tour boat. Kelsey wanted a ride in a big way. You have to buy tickets in a gift shop. Very keen. Eric remembered he forgot to bring a sweatshirt--again. We have a collection of sweatshirts from trips because he forgot his own. Kelsey also had forgotten one, which is surely my fault. I don't expect a seven-year-old to properly pack on her own. Kayleigh brought a sweatshirt but found one she absolutely loved. I told her if it were a size larger I could steal it, so she kindly got the next size up so she could wear it longer. What a sweetie. I haven't stolen it yet.

We grabbed a schedule for the boat and decided tonight was not our night. Instead, we walked around on the lakeshore path and down to the aerial bridge. People were riding these four-wheeled bikes, which Kelsey also wanted to ride. Kayleigh said there was no way we would get her on one of those. She was mortified. Along the path, people were tossing popcorn up to the gulls. Kelsey picked up some pieces from the ground that others had dropped and started feeding the birds. She was so happy.

Kayleigh, meanwhile, skulked around, asking when we were going to leave.

And here I have to backtrack. Silly me--how could I forget? The day before we left (this is champion) Eric got hurt in the shop. I had taken the kids with me to the newspaper office, then we were going to go to the grocery store to stock up for our trip. About five minutes down the road, I realized I'd forgotten my phone. Eric would surely call because he always calls when I forget my phone and gets pretty edgy about it, too.

I had a story to cover that evening, so I kept us moving. At the store, I was paged. I thought, "Oh, christ. My mother is dead," or "What does Eric want me to get?" I wheeled our cart full of cookies, crackers and fruit to the desk. I was to call home.

"I got hurt in the shop, and you forgot your fucking phone again!" Yes.

In the past, Eric never would have used such language. I'm a terrible influence. Also, he was in pain and in withdrawal.

I told the grocer to put our food away. Eric had been working on the table saw and the wood kicked back and nailed him in the gut at about 500 miles an hour. Ouch. He has Crohn's Disease, which can be aggravated by an injury. An abdominal injury gets attention at urgent care.

Turned out he was OK, but tender. It added a (another) degree of tension to the trip. He was sore and tired. As Kelsey and I delightedly explored the shore of Lake Superior, Eric clutched himself, and Kayleigh moaned for both of them.

Monday, July 23, 2007

B-Day and the trip begins

Today is Eric's sister's birthday. Happy day, Laura!

The trip...

A couple of weeks ago, Eric went off one of his drugs. It is progress, and we are glad. The only problem is the violent mood swings that accompany withdrawal from a mood-altering medication. After a couple of tense moments, I wondered how in the hell we would endure much less enjoy our time to refresh ourselves. Eek.

Aside from a couple of emotional days and shivers, he was OK. I was glad. My mood feeds off his a lot. Our poor children.

Anyway, we weighed ourselves before we left, hoping to be somewhat near those weights when we returned. Nevermind the numbers, dahlings. Let's just say one of us did better than the other. (Pie, people. Eric wanted pie. For two meals in a row. Then we had doughnuts for breakfast the next morning. The pie: Eric had triple chocolate coffee for lunch, with banana split for dinner. I had blackberry peach and coconut cream. Kayleigh went with the Dutch apple for lunch, chocolate cream for dinner. Kelsey's choices were triple cherry and triple chocolate coffee. Eric was in love with that place--The Pie Place. As for me--well, I've had better.)

I'm weird about driving places. When I leave, I want to get where I'm going. I want to stop only for gas. If you need to pee, you wait until we stop for gas. If you're hungry, you wait until we stop for gas. If we've decided to take a fun route on the way somewhere and stop to see fun stuff, that's different. Those stops and the time they take are in my head before we leave. We hadn't made such a plan for the first day of this trip.

Less than an hour (!) into the drive, one of us had to pee. The mention of a toilet made another need to pee. I was not pleased. I don't like stopping at restaurants or gas stations to use their bathrooms. They're often filthy, and it's a little rude to just walk to the back of Subway, do your thing, and then take off without buying anything. Also, if you stop anywhere that sells anything--food, gifts, clothes, anything--the kids want something. It makes me nuts. Are they hungry? No, but they really need a bag of Nibs and a Kit Kat and a lemonade and a bag of Doritos and they promise to share and not to spill, so what's the problem? And could they just get that blown glass sea turtle with the plastic Panamanian flag stuck in the bottom? It's only $14.

I said I thought there was a rest stop about 15 minutes up the highway. Said persons really hoped I was right, which made me doubt myself, so we pulled into the Dells. Yeah.

Anyway, I tried hard not to let pissing in every county bug me so much. By the end of the trip, I had succeeded.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Scattered, not in tatters

OK, I've been waiting to add pics before I put up a new post, but I'm going to be waiting too long, I think.

My nephew Geoffrey and his wife, Elizabeth, came for a visit a couple weeks ago. They got married in winter, I believe, at a courthouse or something equally romantic. They needed to get things going or Elizabeth would have been kicked out of the country. It was great to see them. Here they are feeding each other their slice of wedding cake. Theirs was a whipped cream walnut. I put in too much ground walnuts again, and it turned out kind of grainy, but still very tasty.

We had a fun time at Noah's Ark together, then had a family picnic to celebrate their wedding and my mom's 82nd birthday--83rd if the government is asking. (She lied about her age to get into the Navy oh-so-many years ago.) So here she is, regardless of what age anyone thinks she is.

Now, here I have a question. See that sentence in the last paragraph? I have a full sentence inside parentheses at the end of a sentence. Do I use the two periods? Or just the one outside the parentheses? Or skip the stupid parentheses entirely and just use two sentences or a dash or, perhaps, a semicolon? But I don't like a semicolon there. I need to know these things, and my AP Stylebook doesn't answer that question, which ought to be a hint. But I don't follow AP style on this blog, anyway. Laurie, surely you know the answer to this question. Anyone else? (EDIT: I CHANGED IT AFTER SOME FEEDBACK. THANKS.)

Back to my enthralling life--

We went on vacation on Tuesday to Minnesota's North Shore with a quick visit to Eric's dad. Very nice. I'll give you the low-down later. We've just gotten back and need to unpack.

Also, I've reinforced my idea that you should never call home when you're on vacation because it would ruin everything. I called my mom not too long ago to be told, "You're back home, hmm? That's nice. Everything's fine here. Except for the bad news."

Don't you just love that? Christ.

My brother has lung cancer. I'll call him later and try not to cry.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


We picked up our new car yesterday. I've always liked little cars. And it's so clean! Wow! We're paying lots of lip service to keeping it clean. We'll see...

I ramped up the exercising today. Every time I try to add a different weight exercise. Today I added two. And I added another .5 to the incline on the treadmill and .1 on the speed. Tomorrow might not be pretty.

I had lunch at Husnus today with a teacher I'm going to be doing some work for. I can add Research Assistant to my resume. Just 40 hours, but I'll do it. It sounds kind of fun. I'll be looking through newspaper archives from the 1920s to find information about three events that took place in Madison, two involve shootings, one involves junk yards.

We sat outside on State Street, enjoying the drop in temperature and humidity and our Turkish food. Except I gave him my lamb & spinach wrapped in grape leaves. The plate came with it, and he gladly took it off my hands.

So, I'm adding my CDs (slowly) to iTunes on this computer. My favorite ones are nowhere to be found. Bummer. Have I lent any of you Vika & Linda or SeaChange?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Cars and Guys

We bought a new car today. We've never bought a new new car before. We decided it might be nice to get something we wear out ourselves instead of letting the first owner get the best miles out of it.

We already have a Honda Odyssey van, a very practical, family vehicle that you can haul lots of stuff and lots of people in. So we wanted something small for city driving that we could take for short trips, too, but nothing we'd head to Florida in. We didn't need bells and whistles, just decent gas mileage that didn't cost much.

We got a Scion XA. If you've heard bad things about it, please don't enlighten me. The line's been signed. It's salsa red and little.

The funny thing was the guy who wrote up the final documents looked like he could be Stephen Tompkinson's little brother. His hair was lighter and he had no widow's peak, and his nose was not at all English-looking, but the rest of him--weird resemblance. Tall, thick neck, paunch, little mouth, his eyes, and his right eyebrow kept shooting up into his forehead. He even sucked in his breath in a similar, throaty way. When we got home, I asked if anyone else noticed. Eric said he certainly hadn't, but Kelsey said yes right away.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Another Bite of Dust

Yesterday I had to take my shorts off because they were so uncomfortable. Instead of investing in some elastic-waisted pants, I decided there was just no more putting off getting back in shape.

So today I dusted the dirt and cobwebs off the bar bells, I swept the dust off the treadmill, then I called it a day.


I walked for 52 minutes on the treadmill. I did a warm-up and a cool-down lap at a slow pace and a zero incline, then bumped up the incline and walked at a good pace, but not one that would have me heaving. I walked 2.75 miles and burned 240 Calories. (Christ--it's not even a full candy bar's worth of Calories! Ah, well. It's 240 more than I did yesterday.) Elton John's Captain Fantastic kept me going. "Better off dead," right?

The music over, I switched to the bar bells and weight bench. I only worked uppers. Tomorrow can be core and legs. I think I'll be sore enough.

A bit of a stretch and done.

Why do I dread this so much? It's just not that hard. Actually, it feels good, physically and otherwise.