Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hobbled Christmas Video

Here's our first foray into Hobbled Video. The kids received a Flip camera from Santa. We captured these shots at Grandmama and Boppa's this afternoon. The Hobbled Wife set it to music. I expect loads of fun in the days and weeks ahead.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Tis the Season - for Wild Fashion Statements

6th Grade Fashion: Here's what M wore to school today - and Yes, her pant legs are rolled up, and her boots are rolled down not just for this picture - that's the look she plans to sport all day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yesterday's News

Two photos snapped yesterday during my lunch-hour walk. It had snowed Tuesday afternoon and into the evening. Rush hour was a mess, but when the sun came out Wednesday it made for some nice photos.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Proof of Official Geek Status

This is addicting – and you can actually get work accomplished while watching/listening. It's Star Tribune live coverage of the MN Senate canvassing board recount. They are moving through the ballots pretty quickly.

Tundra Poetry Cafe

Last night we battled the rush-hour snow and cold to attend the Tundra Poetry Cafe. The Dude's school gives names to all it's classes, and he is in the Tundra - one of the two grade 3/4 classes. The other is called the Bayou.

The Tundra kids have been working on poetry over the past few weeks and this was the culmination of those efforts. The kids decorated the lunchroom, making it into a cafe. Parents and kids provided baked goods, they had a menu, and sold baked goods and drinks to parents. Money earned at the event went to the Make a Wish Foundation - a charity chosen by the children.

[The waiter pauses amid the swirl of activity.]

After taking our orders and serving the treats, the kids read their poems. A very splendid event.

[M enjoys the lemonade.]

Monday, December 15, 2008

Trying to Catch Up

Tis the season - to be busy. The photo above was taken Saturday at the Guidant John Rose Oval. Ever since the Dude started speed skating lessons - it's been almost impossible to catch him on the ice. A few weeks ago he hugged the wall or held my hand as we went round. On Saturday we probably skated 2 or 4 miles befor we got called off the ice at the end of open skating.

[M- post recital.]

Sunday we had Church choir in the AM, followed by piano recital at 12:30 then the big Project Opera Holiday Show at 4:00. During the time the temperature plummeted, the rain changed to snow, and the wind went from about 0 mph to howling.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Week That Was

[I’ve been adding to my walking path collection. Can you spot the two deer in Tuesday’s photo?]

I’m still here; I haven’t gone away. It seems that most of my blog absences occur during times of stress. During ordinary busy times I usually find time (and want to find the time) to post. It’s only during the busy and stressful times that my blogging juices run dry. The past few days has been one of those periods.

We are in the midst of one of the Dude’s down periods, resulting in some school issues and some stress around home. Add to that, school work, choirs, lessons, etc, a very busy social calendar.

Here’s a run-down of the past few days:

Friday, December 5: School/Work; M and Hobbled Wife are off to a birthday party in the evening. Dog has seizure – a big one – right before we were going to retire for the evening. Now he’s in his post-seizure period and is very hyper, hungry, and won’t settle down. He barks at us when we try to put him in his kennel. The kennel is a nightly routine, and if he is tired enough, he will often go upstairs to the kennel himself. His barking is keeping everyone awake, so the Hobbled Wife volunteers to go entertain him for an hour while he unwinds.

Saturday, December 6: After late night, I’m up early since dog wakes up the same time 7 days a week. Look forward to nap later – it never comes. M has extra long Opera Choir practice followed by performance at the Galleria at 3:00. After dinner, M is off to another birthday party – not to return until 10:30.

Sunday, December 7: After another late night, we are up early for Church Choir in the AM. Afternoon starts with great brunch by yours truly, but M has lots of homework, then water backs up in basement, and THEN the dog has another big seizure. But wait, didn’t we say we were going to purchase a Christmas tree?

The Hobbled Wife stays with the dog – he’s too crazy to leave home alone in post-seizure mode – and the rest of us are off to secure the tree. On the way to the Christmas tree lot, M breaks down crying. She was with the dog when his seizure started and it freaked her out. She’s crying, saying how she hates the dog. The Dude comes to the dog’s defense, M hits the Dude. By the time we’ve driven 1 mile to the tree lot, both kids are sniffling and NOT in the mood to shop for trees. Ho – ho – ho. We agree to try a different tree lot. That seems to do the trick – new venue, new moods. We secure a nice tree and head for home.

Monday, December 8: Stay home to await Roto Rooter man. He ended up removing so many tree roots from the line (I regret not snapping a picture) that it looked like someone had shaved a gorilla and left a pile of coarse black hair on the basement floor. It filled half a large sized garbage bag. Yuck! Apparently given the nature of our trees it would be good idea to have the line cleaned every 2 years – to be on the safe side. Now they tell me!

Tuesday, December 9: Things are looking up. The Dude is not is at school, but Grandmama and Boppa come to hang out with him. His teacher has emailed assignments for the week so we’ve got real work to do. Later that afternoon, the Hobbled Wife takes the Dude to school to pick up a math book. Good talk with the teacher – Dude may be ready to return tomorrow. Oh – then piano lessons for both and speed skating for the Dude. M and Hobbled Wife head out to Ordway to see Irving Berlin’s White Christmas – a late night, but lots of seasonal fun.

Wednesday, December 10: Great news – the Dude goes to school. M has choir practice after school and I (finally) finish cleaning up laundry room after drain incident and Roto-Rooter visit. I’m feeling crappy, I guess I am catching a cold after all.

Thursday, December 11: – Dog has “small” seizure early AM and I have to wake the Hobbled Wife to assist – never a good idea to get her out of bed before she really needs to. More good news – Dude goes to school. Looking forward to speed skating tonight and dance for M.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Thank God It's Friday

Well this is a fine start to a Friday. My computer is been giving me grief all week. Someone from the Help Desk is due to visit - ETA unknown. I was able to work-around the "blue screen of death" and I appear to be up and running - with limited access to some stuff.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Who’s Next?

[Memorial tree with post and plaque.]

I’ve posted about the walking path where I work. One unique feature is are the trees planted in memory of former West employees – some retirees, but usually someone who has died while working for the company. I’ve never counted this gallery of trees but I suspect there are about 20 trees at present, and the number continues to grow.

The common practice is to plant a tree, install a post in front of the tree a day or two later, and then a plaque is fastened to the post within days. The plaque has the worker’s name, sometimes the dates of service to the company, and often a personal message. Sometimes there is a small ceremony. I’ve never been invited to a ceremony, but I’ve seen them – usually a small group of co-workers gathers at the site, someone says a few words, pictures are taken, then back to work.

[Memorial tree with post but no plaque.]

This latest addition to the gallery of memorial trees is disconcerting. They planted the tree, installed the post – and now nothing. It’s been almost a month, maybe more. What are they waiting for? Where’s the plaque with the name and dates. Maybe the question is, “Who are they waiting for?” Who’s next?

Back to Work - Floor Show - and Snow

I find it much easier to throw together a blog post while in the office than at home. Why? Because being at work requires sitting in front of the computer most of the day – ready to respond to any and all emails I receive. But – let’s be honest – it doesn’t take a genius to respond to emails, so the mind wanders (and blogs).

[Tired Skater – Friday afternoon.]

The Dude had been fighting some sort of bug all week, but he just kept slogging on. It finally caught up with him Friday and he spent the rest of the weekend just sitting around the house recovering.


In addition to hosting Thanksgiving, we spent some time this weekend ripping up carpeting to expose the hardwood floors underneath. Both the Dude and Hobbled Wife have allergy problems that will be helped by removing the old, cruddy carpeting. We are lucky that our house was built in that era when the builders installed nice hardwood floors, but it was a sign of status to cover them up almost immediately with “wall-to-wall” carpeting as it was called back in the day.


When we first moved in, we removed the living room carpeting only to find beautiful wood below. We’ve put off removing the carpeting in other areas – but the recent introduction of pets and allergies have moved that project off the back-burner.

Like every domestic home repair job I tackle, this one took much longer than anticipated. We thought that we could remove the relatively small amount of carpeting on the stairs and hall quickly, and then move on the Dude’s room. Hah – I still have some staples to remove in the hall and we haven’t touched the Dude’s rooms. I’m not sure what the industry standard is, but the folks who installed the carpeting in the hall outside the bedroom/bathroom and then down the four stairs, surpassed the required nails and staples to square foot of carpeting ratio by a factor of 10. You weren’t going to slip on any loose carpeting in that hall – no way, no how. If a tornado blew through the neighborhood, leveling all the homes, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that our steps remained intact – held there by the carpeting!

Oh well, the cuts, scrapes, and calluses will heal – just in time to move onto the Dude’s room. After that – we move on to the Hobbled bedroom itself. The only thing that keeps me going is the great wood we are uncovering. Besides, the newly cleared space has a nice echo – so it seems like a bigger space that it really is.

Further weekend news – it snowed – real snow. We received about 2 – 3 inches in our neighborhood Saturday night, and into Sunday morning. It’s so blasted cold that it’s not going anywhere soon. Duke seems to enjoy it – but it sticks to the hair between his claws so he has to take frequent breaks during our walks to remove the little ice chunks.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Roundup

[The Gang. Photo by Garth.]

It was a great Thanksgiving. To get things started right, the Dude and I joined some of his school friends and their families for soccer on the grounds of St. Kate's. This is an annual tradition, but our first time. It was a lot of fun, running up and down the field, working up an appetite for turkey. We played the kids against the grown-ups. The kids won - of course.

[Kids in pursuit of the ball. Photo by Garth.]

Later we roasted the West bird and hosted my mom. Still later, the Hobbled Wife and I left the kids at home to join H & J and some of their family friends for dessert. We can't attend two Thanksgiving dinners, but we can attempt two desserts. We never had dessert, because we ended up watching Jakes' slides from his recent Africa trip. Had to leave to get home to the kids before we even had a chance for our pie. Oh well.

[Three friends. Photo by me.]

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Turkey Day

[Turkeys on pallets.]

Today is Turkey Day at work. It's the day that every employee - and retiree - receives their free thanksgiving turkey. Being a large company, it's not unheard of that husbands and wives will both work here. They are referred to as "Two Turkey Families".

[Truckloads of turkeys await. You can drive up and they will open your car door and place it in your car for you. More robust employees will carry them to their cars - although it's not easy given the size of the parking lot.]

Where'd the Sun Go?

All morning long - sun streaming in the windows - but at noon - when I step out for my walk - clouds.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Flickr Fun

It looks like my new Flickr Badge - see sidebar - is working. I'm slowly loading my various photos to my new Flickr account.

Monday, November 17, 2008

7500 York - 30 Years

This story is probably of limited interested to my wide (hah!)network of readers. The Star Tribune had a nice story about the Senior Cooperative apartments that the Hobbled Mother lives in.

When Edina's 7500 York Cooperative for senior citizens was new, the residents who came down from their apartments to the first-floor restaurant for dinner wore suits and ties or dresses and high heels.

Walk the Dog?

Blame it on the time change, end of day light savings, or the meds to control seizures - whatever - this is Duke's idea of a walk in the morning.

He still rises to the occasion mid-day, and later - but the early morning (and after dark) are times to take-it-easy.

Time to Skate

Picture of the Dude resting during our Sunday skate at the Roseville Oval. It was our first skate of the season. It took a few laps, but we hadn’t lost all our technique, and ended up having a lot of fun. The Dude only fell twice.

We wanted to get in a little practice before the Dude starts speed skating in December.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Cheap Gas

[Gassing up at the Trestle Stop.]

This is exciting. I filled my tank (11.223 gal) for only $21.09. Last time I purchased gas this cheap was January 23, 2007 ($1.85/gal).

This is cheap "Eagan" gas. A colleague of mine claims that gas is always cheaper in Eagan than anywhere else in Twin Cities area. While I haven't done a study myself, I do note that it's always cheaper in Eagan, than St. Paul or Roseville (my home town).

Oh - crap. Just checked the Twin Cities Gas Prices site. And they show gas for $1.77 in of all places - Roseville!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Are We There Yet?

[Dude - front in red coat, blue scarf - and classmates use map and compasses to find the way.]

Took some time off to help with a class project at the Dude's school. They are nearing the end of their geography unit and had to spend some time navigating the neighborhood with compasses and maps. The rain/sleet/snow had finally stopped and the weather was "good enough" for mid November.

[While observing the geography of the neighborhood, we stopped to notice the decreasing gas prices.]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


A view from the walking-path this morning. It reminded me of Munch's Scream - with the "mouth" of the bird house agape and screaming "SNOW".

It's cold enough for the snow to stick to some surfaces. I officially got nailed with the first snowball of the season from the Dude.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Poetry Challenge

Whew! The Dude had an interesting assignment tonight. Make a poem out of this week's spelling words. Sounded easy to me - until I saw the words:


Go ahead - I dare you.

By the way - very cool thing about his new teacher. Each kid gets personalized spelling words - every week - 10 words just for them.

Friday, November 07, 2008

[Snow on an abandoned blue-bird house along the Waking Path at work.]

Snowing – but my mood is better. Surprisingly my mood improved shortly after arriving home and may have even gotten better DURING the cub scout leader meeting.
Home – everyone gone (even dog) and I was able to do a load of laundry and make dinner for family. It’s nice to actually DO something – accomplish something.

OK – Restart – I’m in a much better mood this today, despite the very weird start.

As part of Duke’s ongoing medical treatment, we were asked to “collect” a urine sample – preferably first thing in the morning. Apparently urine is so much better first thing in the morning.

Picture this: 6:00 a.m. and we step out of the house into the dark morning and a nice combination of freezing rain mixed with snow. I’m holding a pint sized yogurt container – all the better to “collect” my prize. But Duke decides that this morning he’ll do things a little differently.

Unlike every morning, today Duke decides not to pee right away, but proceeds to amble off into the field behind our house. I’m following with the yogurt container at the ready. Surprise – he does #2 first. Great, now I have a plastic bag full in one hand, and the yogurt container in the other. Thinking ahead I remove my gloves and stuff them in my pocket. I don’t want them to get messed up because I have no confidence in my ability to “collect” the sample at 6:00 am in the dark with this snowy, sleety stuff coming down.

Damn – my hands are cold!

Luckily he decides to pee. I get down on my knees, place the yogurt container in what seems the right place. Nope – I’m off – but with a warm, wet hand I quickly adjust and collect a rather large amount for scientific testing.

Now I have a bag full in my right hand, a yogurt container full of pee in the other. Both my hands are wet and cold – though one is wetter and colder than the other.

When I return to the house and report on my success, the Hobbled Wife says, “Good, but you didn’t need to collect that much. They only need a little.”

Yeah – I knew that.

Further medical updates – Dr. Stefan called with more information from the blood test. Duke has high cholesterol. Dr. Stefan reports that high cholesterol is common with hypo-thyroid.

Good news - since starting Duke on the phenobarbital - no seizures - but then it's only been a week. Side effect - tired dog.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Minnesota Lows and African Highs

Warning - this starts out like a report from Eeyore.

This picture sums it up for me - wet soggy leaves on the ground. Snapped this while dropping off the Dude at School.

I'm having post-election let down. After all the excitement, it's over. I'm not as jazzed about the trasnformative nature of the new order. While I voted for Senator Obama, I fear he can't live up to the many hopes and dreams that most supporters pin on him. Yes, it was/is a historical election, but he's just a man after all, and he's got his work cut out for him. What will we all say 12 months from now when we're still in Iraq, the economy hasn't rebounded - and Europe (don't they love us now) swung back to disliking us - cowboys that we are?

Hmm - getting that off my chest didn't help a bit. Maybe this will.

The Hobbled in-laws are in Africa and have this to report:

On Thu, Nov 6, 2008 at 5:59 AM, H wrote:

Hi guys: What an interesting time for us to be in Tanzania. We heard the results of the vote yesterday morning. The members of the Obama tribe were already celebrating and Kenya has a national holiday today. We got a Kenyan paper today and half the paper was devoted to Obama's victory. We drove through the countryside this morning and when we drove through villages people on the side of the road were yelling Obama and holding up the victory sign. . . . The trip is great. Saw a lot of animals yesterday and more today. We will be going to the Oldavai gorge tomorrow I think. Will write later.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Heat Wave

Too busy to post this yesterday - what with the summer-like temperatures. When's the last time you raked in shorts and barefeet on November 2. Last Sunday it snowed!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Family Fun

Today was a success! With kids this age, you never can tell how a "family event" will play out. This afternoon, we stopped by Natural Built Home to check on some flooring (for kitchen and entry hall) AND kitchen countertops. Kids were pretty restless there so we just took a lot samples and agreed to stop by again sans kids.

After the floor store, and since we were so close to Minnehaha Falls we decided to do a little hiking/walking. Duke was along for the ride since it's obvious he need more exercise (He still weighs 113 pounds - as of Friday's vet visit. He's also now on phenobarbital for his seizures).

We hiked down to where the Minnehaha Creek empties into the Mississippi River - just under the Ford Dam. The creek wasn't really emptying - since it was almost bone dry. The kids had fun making "boats" - logs and wood that were big enough to hold stones, etc that they launched from shore.

All-in-all a fun afternoon. We were home in time to do some yard work - more raking!

[Duke and the Hobbled Wife resting mid-hike.]

Friday, October 31, 2008

Mystery Chord Revealed??

According to this article a mathematician uncovered the secret to the opening chord on Hard Day’s Night.

Dr. Brown deduces that another George—George Martin, the Beatles producer—also played on the chord, adding a piano chord that included an F note impossible to play with the other notes on the guitar. The resulting chord was completely different than anything found in the literature about the song to date, which is one reason why Dr. Brown’s findings garnered international attention. He laughs that he may be the only mathematician ever to be published in Guitar Player magazine.

Apparently the Science Daily editors did not check out the Wikipedia entry for Hard Day's Night, because - WAIT – someone else had pointed to George Martin (everyone’s favorite 5th Beatle) before the Mathematician in the Science Daily article. Hmmm:

Dominic Pedler has also provided an interpretation of the famous chord, with the Beatles and George Martin playing the following:
• George Harrison: Fadd9 in 1st position on Rickenbacker 360/12 12-string electric guitar
• John Lennon: Fadd9 in 1st position on a Gibson J-160E 6-string acoustic guitar
• Paul McCartney: high D played on the D-string, 12th fret on Hofner 500/1 electric bass
• George Martin: D2-G2-D3 played on a Steinway Grand Piano
• Ringo Starr: Subtle snare drum and ride cymbal
This gives the notes: G-B-D-F-A-C (the B is a harmonic). One of the interesting things about this chord (as described by Pedler) is how McCartney's high bass note reverberates inside the soundbox of Lennon's acoustic guitar and begins to be picked up on Lennon's microphone or pick-up during the sounding of the chord. This gives the chord its special "wavy" and unstable quality. Pedler describes the effect as a "virtual pull-off".[22]

Yikes – at least you can’t accuse the Beatles of being one of those rock-bands that only knows three chords.

Hat-tip: Althouse

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


In addition to snapping pictures of Duke, I grabbed this shot of one of the three Milkweed plants we have in the backyard.

Duke - Again

Here's a shot of Duke after a little game of fetch this AM. Like most big, hairy dogs, Duke really likes these chilly mornings (28F today).

Duke had another seizure Monday - totally messing up the one seizure every two weeks rule. Since he's scheduled for another Vet check-up on Friday, we didn't call. Hate to put him on the meds as I hear the side effect is lethargy - but seizures on a regular basis aren't good for the old guy either.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Home Alone

A quiet end (at least for me) to a busy day. The Hobbled Wife was off all day at a conference, so the kids and I kept ourselves busy doing laundry, trying to tidy the house, raking, mowing the yard -actually only I kept myself busy with those tasks. The kids assisted on the various errands, like the trip to Party City to buy the Dude a halloween costume, the library, and Snuffy's Malt Shop for lunch.

[M as some sort of cat-woman.]

Now all is quiet at the Hobbled House. The Hobbled Wife and the Dude are a Halloween party given by a friend of the Dude's. M is off with the neighbors at the Zoo Boo - hence the cat costume.

It was just Duke and I for dinner. Here he is keeping an eye on me while I grill a steak. I've never dropped one yet - but you never know. A good dog is always an optimist.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not So Hobbled Runner

Here's a nice shot of the Dude (looking very stained) as he approached the finish of the Diana Pierce Family Mile event on October 4. (see earlier post)

Had to fork over $35 for the digital image from one those outfits that takes race photos and then matches bib number to participants. Well worth if for the Dude - though I didn't buy my picture - handsome as it was.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Seize the Day

[Re-posting to add this first paragraph which was left off earlier.]

Duke had another seizure last night. That is his third seizure since arriving in the Hobbled Household. They have come – like clockwork – every two weeks. With that in mind, we can expect the next seizure on November 2 – voting day!

I feel bad about Duke’s latest seizure – as I should have been more proactive and prevented a nasty head banging that he suffered. I had just come up from the basement and found him frothing at the mouth in the kitchen. I knew exactly what was happening. After he froths for about 20 seconds, he loses control of his leg muscles and slowly drops to the floor. I helped him lie down – expecting the big seizure part to start any moment. What I did not expect was that his head would snap back violently and hit the kitchen cabinet. I should have been holding his head, but I wasn’t so he hit his head on the cabinet and drew blood at the corner of his eye. He probably has a “black eye” today – but you can’t see it under all the fur. Being a veteran of two dog seizures I knew he would also lose control of his bladder, so this time I laid some dish towels on him to reduce the mess.

The entire episode lasted about 50 – 60 seconds maybe. Then he just laid there staring at us, too tired to get up, but not falling asleep. Within about 10 minutes he was up and outside and almost back to normal.

Time to call the vet – again.

Brokers with Hands on Faces

I’ve always wondered where they got these pictures. Nice to know someone is collecting them.

Hat Tip: Marginal Revolution

Monday, October 20, 2008

Catching Up

I enjoyed a few days off (of both work and blogging) at the end of last week. At several points during the weekend, I snapped a picture and said, “I’ve got to blog about this.” But it was not to be. When I’m at home, I don’t usually have my laptop on, and this weekend was so lovely, that I spent a great deal of time outside. While my wireless modem works out on the deck – it never entered my mind.

Here’s what I found when I removed the last of the tile and the baseboard from the small bathroom off the kitchen. That’s a big hole (to me at least). Not sure how I will cover that up – maybe use a larger baseboard, and cut out a section for the water intake?

Duke and the Dude on a trip to Petco. Time to stock up on pressed rawhides.

It was “hot” this weekend – but only if you are an older, overweight, hairy dog. Here is Duke on Sunday after a walk to the dog park.

In the background, we find M showing off on the “swing set”. (It’s not really a swing-set in the old metal 1960s version of the word – but it doesn’t to call it a Rainbow Play System either.

Lots more happened over the weekend.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's Over

[Fully charged Caribou Coffee card.]

That didn’t last long. It was only a week. This morning, I broke down and loaded up the Caribou card again.

Why? A number of reasons come to mind, but first and foremost is that fact that I have so few indulgences in my life that a minor coffee habit seems perfectly acceptable. In a busy work-a-day world, it’s nice to have something to look forward to – like good coffee.

Besides, the free stuff was starting to give me some stomach troubles. As for coffee intake, you drink more when you limit yourself to the free stuff. Imagine that. I actually drink less when I limit myself to the paid variety.

For whatever reason last week it felt right to do without, but now that that Dow is rebounding, I feel “in the money” – Time to celebrate with good coffee – HAH!

Note the cool picture of S and I – circa summer of 1992.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Saturday at the Dog Park

[Fall colors on the U of MN Golf Course.]

You'll have to take my word for it that we visited the Lauderdale dog park on Saturday. The message on the city web site calls it a DPA - doggie play area. Real cute. I only snapped pictures on the way there (tree) and just before we reached home (boy, dog, political lawn sign).

We were out for 1 1/2 hours, including walk to and from park. Dog was very tired.