Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Holidays

Now that the cards are "in the mail", it's OK to post the card and letter on site - for those not on the list - and those who prefer to view the holiday greetings electronically.

Christmas 2011

It’s that time of year – time for the annual Crosson-Gisselquist Christmas missive. I’ve taken it to the limit this year, setting down to write this at 11:26 am on Christmas Eve.

What caused us to approach Christmas so late this year? We didn’t even get a tree until last Sunday when there were only 21 trees left on the lot. Our family actually starts the holiday season earlier than most I suspect with auditions for the Rosetown Playhouse holiday show the week before Halloween. Maybe by the time the show is over (2nd week of December) we are done with the holidays?

This year’s holiday show was The Ultimate Santa – a world premiere musical that asked what would happen if someone decided Santa was a tired, worn-out concept and then staged a reality TV to find his replacement – the new, ultimate Santa!. The kids and I had roles in the show, with Shana working behind the scenes selling tickets and other duties as a member of the Rosetown Board.

There was lots of drama this year – the theater kind – and music. The kind of sums it up, drama and music – with some school and work thrown in to keep us honest.

Maria (14 years) wrapped up 8th grade at the same school she had attended since kindergarten. Last summer she had a real (volunteer) job at the Children’s Museum of Minnesota – the kind you interview for and everything! She spent several weeks helping little kids navigate the museum. Every day it was something different – face painting, helping with art projects, and more.

Maria is adjusting well to high school. This fall, she landed a big role in the Roseville Area High School’s production of Urinetown: The Musical. She is enjoying high school and freshman life. Maria continues to sing with Project Opera’s Giovanni choir.

John-John, or J-J as he is testing out as a possible variation, turned 11 this year. He is in 6th grade at the Friends School of Minnesota. Rather than another year with the Minnesota Boy Choir, JJ auditioned for “Opera Choir” (the Ragazzi choir with the Minnesota Opera’s Project). Now we have two kids in Opera Choir which is fun for them, and makes chauffeuring logistics easier for Shana and me.

Shana said I didn’t have to write anything about her – so I won’t. That frees up more space for me and the kids.

In addition to the Rosetown holiday show, the kids and I had roles in the summer show – The Wizard of Oz. It was great fun – despite the weather – 90s and humid for most every show, held as usual outdoors at the Pavilion on Como Lake in St. Paul. We all played Munchkins – size was not a casting requirement for that role – in addition to other roles. JJ was Niko – the head monkey, the Wicked Witch’s henchman – a role he relished. Maria was a Scary, and a Winkie (those castle guards). In addition to my Munchkin role, I was also a Winkie – and part of the tornado. Yes, we had people in the role of the tornado – lots of fun, but I found it more challenging than my younger twister companions to spin round-in-circles on stage without falling over. Could it be age?

John (the Dad) continues to work at Thomson Reuters. In addition to Rosetown acting, John serves on the Roseville Planning Commission. He’s enjoyed it so much, that he has re-applied for another 3 year term. Cross your fingers – the Council votes in January.

Duke our Golden Retriever of indeterminate age is doing well – despite some nagging health problems. He has slowed a lot in the past year, forcing Shana and John to reconsider how they are going to get real exercise, as Duke walks SLOWLY – when he walks at all. Duke enjoys life with our three cats – Roscoe (the original), Patches (the short-term guest who has made herself a part of the family), and Reggie (the stray John found on a garbage can in the park). Many animals make for lots of fun.

We were shocked and saddened in early November when Shana’s uncle Bub passed away.

We all keep thinking of "one more thing" we will miss about Bub. Summers at the cabin won't be the same without him. Who else knows all the good fishing spots? Who will help me clean the fish we do catch? I'm no good at it - and a lot goes to waste. Bub was like my Uncle Ole - he could filet a fish in seconds, and not leave any of the good stuff behind.

Bub’s funeral provided several bittersweet moments, like the chance to visit the cabin in the off-season and pose for this family photo.

Happy New Year – John, Shana, Maria, and John-John

Blackberry, “Sampling”, and the Crud


I apologize for the lack of pictures. On Tuesday, I started to wash my Blackberry (it was in my coat pocket). I pulled it out of the pocket – but not in time for it to have got slightly wet. It still worked, but when I picked it up, water dripped out the bottom. I took it apart, wiped down the battery, and the main body, and submerged the pieces in rice. One web site recommended the parts should remain in the rice for 48 hours – we are at about 47 hours right now – so we will try again this morning.


It’s time for some more “sampling” – and I’m not talking statistical sampling or sampling some music pieces. No this is the time of sampling where the Hobbled Runner walks around the yard holding a yogurt container waiting for Duke to hear nature’s call. When the old boy gets ready to pee, I stoop and hold the container “just so”. In the past this has involved more pee on me than in the container – but my technique has improved over time. Last time, I came out unscathed. Wish me luck this time!

This is a follow-up for the earlier urinary tract infection. He’s done the 10 days of antibiotics and it’s time to re-check for bacteria, etc in the urine. I think he’s recovered well – but you still need a sample.

The Crud Continues

A few days back I posted about Duke and his “new normal”. I think I’ve developed a new normal myself. It’s been three weeks since my odd malady, the viral arthritis. The doctor did warn it could take several weeks for the symptoms to go away, but I didn’t believe him. Now, I believe.

I’m not sick every day. The symptoms come and go – sometimes lasting only a few hours. One day it’s a stiff shoulder, the next stiff ankles or wrists. (The rash has never returned.) The latest is the red, sore throat and sore shoulder and knee (right side only). That’s been around almost 24 hours now.

Let’s give it another few days. At that point I may contact the doctor – though I don’t know what they would do.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Blown Away

Work continues on the Crosson-Gisselquist Christmas Card and letters. Don't worry, they will be in the mail tomorrow. I promise no better next year. Yes, it feels good to admit that. Our Christmas cards will seldom, if ever, arrive before Christmas. Our goal is to deliver them before New Years Day. I've stopped kicking myself for not getting them done sooner - and that makes all the difference in the world.

Walked to Kinko's to pick up copies of the Christmas letter this morning and decided to make a real walk of it - by taking the long way home. I snapped the picture above while leaning into a fierce SW wind whipping across the fields maintained by the University of Minnesota's College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources. It's great living near the U Fields, kind of like having a farm in the city. When we first moved to Roseville in 2001, they U still kept some cattle in one field - but that's since been converted to a turf grass research site - boring, but less smelly.

In the end, I didn't blow away and I even saw a tumble-weed blow by - a post-Christmas first for me!

Spent the morning at home, doing laundry, addressing Christmas Cards, etc. In the afternoon, we were visiting with Auntie Amy (Shana's sister) and my nephew Max (age 2 1/2), who are in town for a few days. Tomorrow we have brunch with family friends, then hope to visit Como Zoo with Max.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Early Christmas

Pleasantly surprised to find a number of old Frank Sinatra Christmas songs on YouTube (thanks to following a couple of clicks from this post by An Affordable Wardrobe.) I've loved this song ever since purchasing Christmas with the Rat Pack several years ago. Can't find link to the version I have, it seems to change every year, but here you go - you get the idea. In the video, Old Blue Eyes describes this number as one of the "newer" holiday songs - this was 1957 after all.

Love that "living room" scene - my parents had drapes exactly like that.

Anyway - Shana and I finished up some Christmas shopping this morning and got some exercise at the same time. We walked over the Super Target - fearing bad traffic and a crowded parking lot. We observed neither. I've been trying to keep it local this season - but even shopping at the Super Target feels local as it is close to home and has a special place in many Minnesotans' hearts as Target Store #1 the original - from 1962 - I'm about 6 weeks older than the store.

For the record, here are the other local stores I've hit this year. Shana did the dirty work and went to the mall/big-stores for me (thank you very much!)

Grand Hand Gallery


Wet Paint

Minnesota Historical Society gift shop

Micawbers Bookstore

Friday, December 23, 2011

Duke and the New Normal

At a school choir event last night, a regular reader of the Hobbled Runner inquired about Duke. Thanks for your interest! Duke is fine. His Masticatory Myositis doesn’t seem to impact his quality of life. At least it doesn’t impact it more than his seizures, or thyroid conditions, or old age. The Myositis doesn’t seem to be spreading or getting worse, so it appears to be part of the “new normal” for Duke. Having said that I’ll spend more time petting Duke and checking other parts of his body for muscle atrophy, though I suspect that would make itself evident in difficulty walking and generally controlling his body.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Annual Piano Session

Things I do on vacation – play the piano – I the piano this time every year – Christmas Carols of course. Last night I played for about 45 minutes. I enjoy it, but I’ve decided that to really get good at piano, one must practice more than once a year.

Old Dog, New Trick

Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Duke taught himself this trick and has employed it two days running now. He needs to go out to pee late morning, and when I let him out he doesn't come back in - instead, he just lays down in the front yard and goes to sleep. Coming up on 90 minutes now.

Oh yeah - Patches wants out too. Except she doesn't - because once out she realizes it's December - despite the lack of snow - then starts yowling to get back in.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Ohh Duke!

They love Duke at the Vet's. When you call and identify yourself, the person on the other end of the phone inevitably says, "Ohh Duke!" - in a sweet, rather high-pitched tone of voice - they love him so. When you arrive at the office, it's "Ohh Duke!" all over again. Ever since he came into our lives in September 2008, it's been one thing after another.

First it was the thryoid, then the seizures, then the "foreign object removal". Lately it's been a runny nose (possible fungal infection) that defies medication. Last week it was the urinary tract infection for which he's now on anti-biotics.

We just can't stay away. Today we decided to have the Vet take a look at his oddly bony head, and recessed right eyeball. Turns out it's most likely Masticatory Myositis.

His muscles around his skull and jaw have atrophied leaving a very bony skull. The right eye is recessed in his skull and often not pointing straight ahead. His visionn is probably OK (for such an old dog), but he probably has to rely more on the left eye than the right one.

Treatment - not much for now. He still chews his food just fine. He's bit slower at meals - but given the rapid pace of his eating this "slowing" would still appear to be fast for many dogs. Some dogs with Masticatory Myositis present with pain when eating, or in severe cases, the inability to open their mouths. If it impacts his ability to eat we may look into treatment options.

It's treated with high doses of prednisone or dexamethasone - which come with their own special side effects, like frequent water drinking and urination, not to mention their impact on the immune system as they greatly suppress immune system activity.

Wait and see. More fun ahead. Ohh Duke!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Duke and I – Health Updates

We noticed a rapid improvement for Duke after starting antibiotics. He is peeing “normally” – meaning not every 10 minutes – and is able to rest and sleep again without interruption. This is great for him – and us.

I continue to enjoy lingering symptoms of this viral arthritis thing. Stillsome aches and pains, with a scratchy throat and limited mobility in hands/wrists and shoulders. It is difficult (but not impossible) to pull on a jacket. My shoulders don’t reach back well. My feet are kind of sore – but nothing like last Thursday. Thanks to ibuprofen the pain is greatly reduced, but the stiffness and limited range of motion remains.

I’m back at work today. At first I didn’t think I could do it, but I’m in the groove now, but may leave early. Taking it hour-by-hour.

Farewell Ultimate Santa

The Ultimate Santa wrapped up yesterday. You can find lots of great pictures on the Rosetown Facebook page.

The second weekend saw three solid performances, with Saturday night’s being the best – at least for audience reaction/participation.

I may post more about this later – still need time to process it all - and whip this weird bug I have.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

An Aging Dog

Here are three photos of Duke. The first was taken in December 2008 a few months after he came into our lives.

The next photo is one year later - December 2009 - relaxing on the couch.

Jump ahead two years and here he is today. It's not a good day for Duke. He started going out to pee quite frequently yesterday so we called the Vet this morning. They asked us to bring in a urine sample. It wasn't hard to gather that - and even my untrained eye could see the blood.

The Vet found some some bacteria in the sample so Duke is on antibiotics for two weeks. Hope the meds kick in soon as the constant trips outside - and the accidents indoors - are no fun for anyone.

The constant in-and-out trips are interfering with his sleep. Poor old guy hasn't slept well in 2 days. He's even too tired to clean up his own runny nose. The runny nose is another issue - running for months - unresponsive to antibiotics. Probably a fungal infection, but the "cure" - putting him under to flush out his nose and sinuses is something that could be pretty hard on an old dog so we are waiting it out - for now.

BackStage at The Ultimate Santa

Here's an eerie but cool backstage photo from The Ultimate Santa with dancers (above) and orchestra in the pit (below) silhouetted againt the backdrop.

Friday's show went well - despite (or because of) the 4 days off since Sunday's show. I was feeling fairly healthy - thanks to two days on the couch and lots of ibuprofen. Once I was in the thick of things, I didn't think about the various aches and pains - but this morning I could sure feel it.

Two shows remain - tonight at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:00. Get your tickets now!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Spoke Too Soon

I jinxed myself by posting yesterday about feeling better.

When I woke up at 12:30 a.m. to let the dog out (same time two nights in a row - hmm), my wrists hurt. Figured maybe I had been sleeping on them - but didn't give it much thought.

This morning, I awoke at 6:15, my wrists still hurt, along with my ankles - and I was covered with some odd pin-point rash - complete coverage on arms and torso, going down to my legs. It was difficult to grip things - and my thumbs (especially my left one) didn't work well at all. Opposable thumbs are critical to one's morning routine - and most of life.

Decided to have the doctor check it out. He called it viral arthritis. We checked for strep - negative. While they were working under the hood so-to-speak, they decided to add a few more procedures, drawing blood to check my (low) vitamin D levels (awaiting a call and lecture about taking supplements), and of course they gave me a flu shot*.

Not much to do but treat the symptoms. I went to Rainbow for a few groceries and some benadryl. Lots of fun - as I hobbled around the store on my arthritic ankles. It seemed to be senior citizen morning at the store, and I fit right in. (Note to self - those self check-out lines are all open when the average of the shopper is 70!)

So now - 6 hours later, full of benadryl and ibuprofen, the rash has subsided some, the joints don't hurt, but they still don't work well. Napping on the couch, reading, blogging, etc.

*About the flu shot - I expect the side effects to kick in soon. Every time I get a flu shot, I come down with flu-like symptoms later in the day. I've stopped getting them when they are provided free at work because I always end up going home sick. The side-effects or symptoms are short lived - should pass by morning. I'm not looking forward to another weekend of Ultimate Santa at less than 100%.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

December Shadows

I’m back at work and feeling better – but not 100%.

Every time I recover from some malady, I’m struck by the fact that it probably started earlier than I realized. Looking back, I was probably “under the weather” by about Wednesday or Thursday last week. My day off Friday was less than productive – which should have been a clue – but the buzz of opening night kept most of my symptoms at bay. As I reported yesterday, I performed Saturday’s show with a splitting headache (should have taken more than 2 ibuprofen), and by Sunday I was Mr. Crabby.

After lunch today, I ventured out into the 18 sunny degrees only to find the sun already casting long shadows at 2:15 in the afternoon! Ah, December in Minnesota.
Many of my colleagues who walk at lunch are now walking indoors. The facilities folks have a web page with maps of the outdoor walking paths AND the indoor routes – with distances for each.

Please – indoor walking? I’m not a big fan of indoor exercise. This is Minnesota – I say, “Get used to it.” Besides it’s only December 6, and I enjoy the look some give me when they see me in my coat, hat, scarf, and gloves heading out to brave the elements. My rule is that you can’t legally complain about the long, cold winters until late February – or at least after Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no snow freak – no winter camping for me. But I cross country ski occasionally, ice skate (outdoors of course), and enjoy walking almost daily. Lately I’ve come to appreciate shoveling of all sorts. I find roof raking the best for upper body strength and conditioning. Winter in Minnesota – it’s like your own private fitness center, without the fees, and no lines at any of the machines.

Most days you can dress warm enough to fend off the elements. On even the bitterest days, I find that if you dress in layers (but you knew that), and cover your exposed skin, you can enjoy a bit of fresh air – and possibly some elusive winter sunshine. And watch your footing! A few years back I slipped on ice while walking the dog. The result was whiplash and two fractured vertebrae, but I don’t think I missed any dog-walks because of the injury – though they were pretty slow for about a week or so. I’m now as cautious as my 81 year old mother when I see ice.

Maybe if you can’t/won't go outside for over one-quarter of the year you should consider moving.

Monday, December 05, 2011

The Show Went On

Here’s an awful picture of me in the cafĂ© scene, mentioned in my last post. I look like some crabby, weird, old man – but since that's how I feel - it's OK.

More pictures - and other play related stuff can be found here.

The first weekend has come and gone, and the three shows went very well. Saturday night’s crowd was the smallest of the three due to snow, but they made up for their small numbers in enthusiasm – lots of laughs.

Now it’s Monday and I’m home sick. I’ve been fighting it for several days. While stretching my stiff neck on Friday I noticed my lymph glands were swollen. All through the Saturday show I had a splitting headache that ibuprofen would not help. On Sunday I was tired and a bit sluggish, but felt the show went well. But once home I became very crabby. Shana sent me to bed early and I slept from 8:30 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. this morning.

When all the sleep left me feeling no better, I knew it was time to throw in the towel. It was inevitable I would get sick. Many colleagues at work are sick, and the cast of The Ultimate Santa – oh boy! There were lots of germs being passed around at rehearsals – kids and adults both sniffling and coughing.

Now it’s time to rest on the couch.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Opening Night a Success!

Last night's opening and "world premiere" of Rosetown Playhouse's The Ultimate Santa was a success! Despite doubts earlier in the week, it all came together beautifully - as I knew it would.

One of my favorite scenes in the play is the cafe scene where I'm an extra. Unlike my scenes as Stocky (one of the Ultimate Santa contestants), I'm anonymous in the cafe and have no lines to speak. Instead I'm innocently sipping coffee with a woman at a small table. Slowly it dawns on us that celebrity "British" arts and entertainment critic Chelsea Eaton is seated at the table next to us. We have fun recognizing her and at one point I use my Blackberry to snap a picture of the famous Chelsea. The picture is ad-libbed but it seems to work. I figure celebs face that hassle all the time. In order to make it authentic, I'm taking real photos - a different one each night. Last night's turned out rather nicely - given the odd lighting - cross stage with a spotlight coming in from the upper right.

We had a big crowd last night - almost 200. Seats are still available for tonight at 7:30 and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. - as well as next week.


December 2, 3, 9 & 10 at 7:30 p.m.

December 4 & 11 at 2 p.m.

$12 Adults
$10 Seniors
$8 Students
$5 Children 5 and under
Buy Tickets Now!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Minnehaha Memories

While cleaning out my picture files this morning, I was cruising down the list in alpha order when I came across these two right next to each other. I know the top one was taken on August 28, 2011, but the bottom one? Maybe 2008??

Monday, November 28, 2011

Inside Looking Out

First day back after the Thanksgiving vacation and my brain is still in vacation mode. Looking outside at 3:50 pm and the sun is setting. Welcome to MN at the end of November.

We have 4 hours of rehearsal ahead tonight (6:00 - 10:00 p.m.). Ugh.

Here's a picture from last night.

How's that for a aimless, disjointed blog post.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Are We Ready Yet?

[By Friday this will all make sense.]

Tomorrow starts "tech week" - aka the week of hell - prior to Friday's opening of The Ultimate Santa. We rehearse four hours Sunday, then from 6:00 to 9:30 Monday through Thursday. We will go over the production, in costume, scene-by-scene.

It's a painstaking process. The adults will groan and sigh; the kids will be too squirrelly to pay attention. Tempers will flare. At some point, I will promise myself never to do another show.

We are at that point when one's emotions swing between, "This will never work!" and "This will be an awesome show!" I think I know all my lines I just hope I don't miss my cues. Tomorrow I'll forget all my lines, but remember everyone elses. That's just the way it is - for me at least.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What Are You Thankful For?

I am thankful for spring-like weather in November. Here's the view from my walk with Duke this morning, looking south towards home across Fairview Fields.

Speaking of dogs. I’m thankful for loyal dogs, like Duke and Major.

Major making tracks in last weekend's snow.

For the backstory on my canine cousin Major, follow this link.

For other things I'm thankful for, check out my post on the Roseville Patch.

Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

And So It Begins

Today I was surprised to see the snow pile in the field along the walking path at work. Of course I should not have been surprised as it snowed several inches over the weekend. When they clear the vast parking lots here at world headquarters, they cart the snow off into the field in the middle of the walking path. By winter’s end the piles are enormous and tend to attract a lot of deer. I suspect the deer love the salt in the plowed snow.

To counter the dirty pile of snow, I’ll offer this snow angel made by the Dude on Sunday.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Too Much Vacation?

[Looking up while walking Duke this morning.]

Oh, the “burden” of too much vacation.

It’s been a busy year. It’s been so busy that I haven’t used all the vacation available to me. Company rules state we can only carry 40 hours into the next year, so I’ve got some vacation to burn. I plan to take some time at the end of the year – but that doesn’t burn it all so I’m taking a day here and there.

Today was a good day to stay home as Shana was traveling for business so I had kid duties in the AM and PM. I enjoy staying home and getting stuff done. It beats commuting to work and not getting stuff done.

After seeing Maria off, I walked Duke. Then it was home to get the Dude ready to go. After I dropped him at school, I went for a walk around Como Lake. After that I hit the library/coffee-shop, Target, and finally Goodwill.

In addition to that run-around period, I was able to do some laundry (2 loads), some “fall” cleaning: clean the drapes – (see laundry); remove dust and accumulated gunk from ceiling fans – I try to clean them every fall/spring – should do more often (yuck); cat litter (yuck squared); replaced filter on furnace – easy but always surprised by the stuff it has trapped. Old one comes out gray and dingy, new one goes in pearly white. It says replace every 3 months – this one slipped to 4 – but then there was quite a bit of time this fall when we ran neither the AC nor furnace.

After all my work, I found the cats napping. I took the hint and napped a bit myself.

Duke surprised us by having two seizures – one last night, and one this morning. We will increase his meds and hope for the best.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Here a Post, There a Post

I'm now blogging on the Roseville Patch.

I hope to post there on a regular basis – and of course continue to post on the Hobbled Runner.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

An Arts-Packed Weekend

The theme this weekend was, support your local arts organization(s).

Friday night, Shana and Maria attended the Eat Street Players' production of Lend Me a Tenor, a show that included Michael Sheeks – from Roseville Area High School – the man who directed RAHS’ recently concluded success Urinetown: The Musical.

Saturday night Maria and I attended the final performance of Roseville Area Middle School’s production of North Woods Nonsense. As a high school freshman, it was fun for Maria to see the “little kids” taking center stage, some of whom we’ve both performed with in Rosetown productions.

On Sunday, the Hobbled family chose the divide and conquer approach, with Shana attending a performance by percussionist and educator Dame Evelyn Glennie at House of Hope, while the kids and I headed over to the Old Arizona Theater for Going to the Soiree, a production of the Kinetic Evolutions Dance Company featuring two young women we have worked with at Rosetown – Kayla Schlitgen (who choreographed Music Man, Oliver!, and Christmas Carol), and Jenny Sung who choreographed last summer’s Wizard of Oz and now is working with us on The Ultimate Santa. I had never been to a dance performance before – besides Maria’s dance school recitals. We had a great time.

In addition to all that craziness I raked the yard – let’s hope for the last time, cleaned the gutters, and did a number of loads of laundry.

Saturday night brought its own little challenge as Maria and I changed a flat tire at 10:00 pm on a dark side street. Note to self – get a strong flashlight and keep it in the trunk. Cell phones barely produce enough light to change a tire by – especially when the one holding the flashlight has to keep pulling it away to answer texts. Or maybe cell phones would work in a pinch if the one holding it is not a 14 year old girl with an active social life. (Of course it wasn’t a simple puncture – so we had to replace the tire – actually both tires actually “for balance” of course.)

Monday it's back to work, where I can get some rest.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

[My Dad on the left. I believe this was taken at Kearns Air Base outside St. Lake City, Utah - summer/fall 1943. More about that in these various posts.]

Today is Veteran’s Day – an important day of remembrance. I regret not working downtown anymore. There was always an old vet on the corner selling those plastic poppies – not really selling them – more like he gave you one if you donated a buck or two.

For the past few years I’ve thought about driving out of my way to find a poppy. Maybe Ft. Snelling cemetery would have one. I could visit my Dad’s grave at the same time. Maybe take in the Veteran’s Day celebration.

I think about doing it – but never do.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Business Jargon Alert: My Ask?

In a meeting with colleagues, one of whom had a question.

He set it up this way,

“I think my ask is . . . [insert question here]”.

“My ask” – seriously?

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Celebration of Life

Shana's Uncle Bub died unexpectedly last week. It was quite a shock.

Shana and her parents drove up to Vergas on Monday for the visitation, and the kids and I came Tuesday for the funeral. It was only the second funeral the kids remember attending. (Maria was at my Dad's funeral - but being only 3 doesn't recall any of it.) It was nice to see the wonderful turnout. The Community Center was packed with friends and family. We saw folks we hadn't seen in years which was nice.

We've had some interesting discussions since the funeral. The Dude was curious why Bub wasn't buried in a suit. He thought everyone was buried in a suit. I told him that the family decides on burial clothes. For the record, I thought Bub looked great in jeans and an outdoorsy/hunting-style shirt.

The Dude and I also keep thinking of "one more thing" we will miss about Bub. Summers at the cabin won't be the same without him. Who will take us fishing? Who else knows all the good spots on West McDonald? Of course we will continue to fish on our own, but who will help me clean the fish we do catch? I'm no good at it - and a lot goes to waste. Bub was like my Uncle Ole - he could filet a fish in seconds, and not leave any of the good stuff behind.

From a personal point of view, I lament the passing of one more male elder in my life. The number of older, father-figures is really dwindling. Of course that happens as one approaches 50, but it doesn't make it any easier. As for women, I'm blessed to have my Mom, my mother-in-law, many aunts and other elders of the female persuasion. Long may they live!

Visiting Vergas gave us the chance to see the cabin and the farm in off-season - something I've never done in the almost 20 years I've been a part of the Crosson family. Down at the cabin, everything seemed smaller. Without leaves on the trees and underbrush, you could see farther - making everything look closer.

[Maria on the shore.]

After touring the closed up cabin and taking pictures around the cabin, we headed out - but not without stopping by the farm.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

That Darn Cat

I was up and out of the house early this morning for a 7:00 am Telepresence with folks in India. Rather than my usual eggs, I made something quick and easy to transport – one apple and ¾ of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Why ¾ you ask?

Roscoe got the other quarter when I turned my back for a moment.

Later: After 2 hours of meeting I discovered that breakfast was still being served in the cafeteria - sausage/egg/cheese bagel. Umm - that hit the spot - but 3 hours later it's still hitting the spot - and not in the most pleasant way.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Changing Seasons

[Yesterday's picture - a beautiful Halloween.]

My daughter is growing up before my eyes. It’s not just physical, though any time she wears shoes she’s as tall or taller than me. No, the growth I’m talking about seems linked to her getting a lead role in this Fall’s production of Urinetown: The Musical – as a freshman. She now spends a great deal of time with older kids – the kind that drive and have real boyfriends and girlfriends. There’s a lot going on. I’m not part of it.

Let’s call it maturity – with an edge.

I feel the distance when we are together in the same room. It doesn’t make me sad. It just feels more and more like two separate and distinct people – like me and some other adult.

As for the Dude, he and I went trick-or-treating with a friend yesterday. It was probably the last time out for me. If he goes next year, he can go on his own. He’ll be 12 years old and in 7th grade. Just remember to save some candy for Dad.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Time – and How Not to Use It.

[Picture from walking path at work - illustrative of a good way to spend your free moments.]

Sunday I returned from a run and decided to do what little post-run stretching I do in the back yard. It was warm and sunny and Shana and the Dude were gardening. As I lay on my back looking up at the clouds it hit me – when was the last time I laid on my back and looked up at the clouds? When I was 12 years old? No, better make that 10? If you think about it – or maybe if you don’t think about it – it almost feels like you are on a giant ride (let’s call it Earth) and you can feel it spin you around – forward.

On a related note I read this interesting piece about time, and how we use it – or don’t – and working – or not working:

Yes, we're Americans. We are, by and large, utterly terrified of silence, stillness, spaciousness, the doing of nothing so as to feel the totality of everything. Meditation, for most, is disquieting and strange. Deep quiet feels weird and dangerous, a void aching to be filled. The Internet has us convinced that the world is a roaring fire hose of urgent information, and if you can't swallow it all, well, something must be wrong with you.

Mark Morford Hat tip: Austin Kleon.

Related – in a way: Sitting in a meeting Wednesday. Everyone had their laptops open. One colleague turned to another and said, “Four emails! How can you only have four unopened emails in your in-box?”

Both this colleague and I have close to 200+ emails unopened at any time. I’m kind of an email slacker – if the subject line or sender doesn’t jump out at me, the email is ignored. This other guy, he’s a getting-things-done kind of guy, but even he can’t keep up. On the other hand, at least one colleague does keep up with email. So how does she do it?

“Every morning at 4:45 when I’m eating breakfast, I read email, sorting and deleting as I go along,” she replied.

Four-Forty-Five in the morning! Ugh – another example of how the corporate rat race is one I’ve lost. There are days when I’m certain I’m not even entered in the race.

New Year - Old Tasks

Found this to-do list in the pocket of a coat I don't wear very often. It's an old "barn coat" purchased in the mid-1980s at Dayton's. In the pocket was this old to-do list. It could be from last year, but I also found an old receipt - for the purchase of donuts and pumpkins at Rainbow dated October 24, 2009. So maybe the to-do list is 2 years old.

Despite the passing of a year - or two - the tasks remain almost the same as those we accomplished (or failed to do) last weekend. Both the Dude and I got haircuts. We also went to the library to pick up a book on hold.

The list also has some things I still need to work on: We still haven't purchased pumpkins and our Anniversary is tomorrow (17 years) and I still haven't bought a gift!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thank Goodness for Indian Holidays

Until I read the Wikipedia article, I knew nothing about Diwali (or Deepavali) except it meant no 7:45 AM “stand-up” call this morning.

True confession: I am usually sitting down at my dining room table for these stand-ups.

Urinetown Press

[Photo by MacDonald Meade.]

The Roseville Patch published our press release and a nice photo.

The Roseville Review also ran the photo (in their paper) - but not the article.

While the article/press-release was written by me, it was a real team effort. Lots of great photos by Mac Meade (parent), and Shana's interview with the production's director Michael Sheeks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Problem: Can’t sit still!

Solution: Short work bursts – don’t expect to sit still through all 319 unopened emails – just isolate one email chain and read, respond, and delete.

Then get up – move around – and return for the next attack.

The Ultimate Santa

The kids and I have roles in Rosetown Playhouse’s upcoming production of The Ultimate Santa. It’s very exciting for me as I have a named role, “Stocky” – a stock-broker and contestant in the Ultimate Santa television reality show.

So what's it all about?

Is Santa irrelevant? Perhaps? An unscrupulous television network, trying to boost ratings has decided to cash in on questions circulating about the continued relevancy of Santa Claus by hosting a reality TV show to find a replacement, a “new” Santa. Twelve people are put forward to compete for the title of The Ultimate Santa – including the real Santa Claus, and Mrs. Claus – along with a cast of characters with little or no experience to actually be Santa.

We’ve had two rehearsals so far – concentrating on lines and blocking. Dancing starts Thursday! Yipee!

It’s a busy time in our household with Maria getting ready to open Roseville Area High School’s production of Urinetown: The Musical.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

From Whence I Came

[Ole and Marie Olson - my great-grandparents. Date unknown.]

Maria is doing a project for Geography where she has to trace a set of ancestors who emigrated to the United States. Always up for a challenge, Maria decided to avoid the easy route which would have been to follow my father-in-law's forebears. As a Mayflower family they are very well documented - going back to the 1300s or something in England.

No, instead she has chosen to document my mother's grandparents (my great grandparents) Ole Olsen and his wife Marie. Not a lot is known about them - in fact we don't even know when they immigrated. Ole was born in 1866, Marie in 1864. Their first child was born in the United States in 1884 - so he was 18 years old and in the U.S. But when did he arrive? Was he married? Did they leave the old country as a married couple, or meet up here?

Little is known - he was dead by age 34 - and only two pictures survive. This picture of he and Marie taken in Willmar, and separate head and shoulder shots that appear to be taken the same day, based on their dress and general physical appearance.

Assuming our great grandchildren will still be able to access the media our lives our are stored on, let's hope their future geography projects are much easier.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Move Along - Nothing to See Here

The bench is gone.

As you recall, it was neglected. I guess it was a choice between repair or remove - and remove won out. It was obvious no one sat on it anyway.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Santa-Hole

On Monday the kids and I auditioned for Rosetown Playhouse’s The Ultimate Santa. Everyone who auditioned was required to sing a non-religious Christmas song. I sang what I call the “Hula Hoop” song, made famous by the Chipmunks. Maybe it’s really called “Christmas Time is Here” or something.

Then we had to present a one-minute monologue answering one of these questions:

1. Where does Santa really live?

2. How did reindeer learn to fly?

3. What happened the year Santa got pneumonia?

I choose the first, and presented a short monologue about Santa living in our hearts, in a "Santa-Hole". The idea was based on the theory of the God-shaped hole that I first read of in James Lileks' Bleat. (Alas, can't find link to original Bleat.)

I did it without notes – but here is what I prepared ahead of time. I stuck to the text (mostly) but as often happens in those instances you get off message and have to just go with it.

Where does Santa really live?

Santa lives in the hearts of each and every one of us.

You may not know this, but we are all born with a little “Santa-Hole”. In fact, about 1/16 of our heart space is allotted for Santa. Most of us fill that space with the joy of Christmas, gift-giving, merry-making, and so on.

Unfortunately that hole grows smaller as we age.

But sometimes events conspire to turn back the normal aging, Santa-Hole shrinking process. Of course the most famous example of this was the Grinch who stole Christmas.

Technically speaking his Santa-Hole didn’t grow – instead his entire heart grew, thus increasing the size of his Santa-Hole in proportion. But – same result –larger Santa-Hole, more joy and giving for the Who’s down in Whoville.

But I’m not the Grinch.

What can I do to stop the normal Santa-Hole shrinking process brought on by aging?

Well, absent a Grinch-like change of life the rest of can only hope to keep our Santa-Holes from shrinking by following this advice: Eat right, get plenty of exercise, and never stop loving the gift of giving, the true spirit of Christmas.

Of course the third part of the audition was the dreaded dance which seemed easier this year – though I won’t kid myself. I won’t be amongst the featured dancers.

Good news this morning: Call-backs tonight the Dude and I. Not certain about Maria yet – she had a number of conflicts

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dear Santa: Send White Shirt

I apologize for the blurry shot - that's me flabbergasted by the Christmas decorations at Macy's in Rosedale. Macy's was our third stop in the elusive search for the white dress shirt.

The Dude and I set out after noon today in search of the white dress shirt - straight collar (not button-down). He needs it for "opera choir" as we call it around the Hobbled Household - more officially Ragazzi, part of Project Opera. (Both he and Maria are in "Opera Choir" - M being in Giovani for the older kids.)

First stop Kohl's which had plenty of button-downs but no straight collars. From there we ventured over to the Mall. We had hoped to avoid Rosedale but since Kohl's didn't come through, it was off the the Mall.

Penney's - Nope; Macy's - No; Herbergers - Yes, but none in his size. Home to order online which is what we should have done in the first place.

Other weekend accomplishments include 7 loads of laundry, yard work (mowing, etc), cleaning the bathrooms, cooking a great ham on Saturday, and ham soup with the left-overs tonight.

Engaged in some parent-powered-publicity for Urinetown. I drafted a "news" story for the local press, The Roseville Review, and the Patch. Shana is interviewing the Director tomorrow morning before work hoping for some quotes to round out the article, another partent is providing a few pictures. After all that work, let's hope they print it.

This morning I did a short run - continuing a recently established tradition of the once-a-week run. It's amazing that it works. I think all my walking during the week helps provide something of a "base" for my weekly 2+ mile run. It's fun, I (sort of) wish I could run more, but once-a-week works for me.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday - No Longer Pizza Night

[A close-up look at the walking path - complete with festive fall colors.]

Tonight for dinner it’s Noodles and Company which now alternates with Chipotle, replacing our Friday Pizza Night in the Hobbled household – at least for the duration of the show as Maria is instructed to avoid tomato products of any sort (including pizza) while on “vocal rest”.

Yes, I am aware that most pizza establishments offer a “white” pizza (free of tomato sauce). But try serving that to kids – I dare you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Alternate Routes to Work

For the benefit of a neighbor and co-worker - two alternate routes to work.

The shortest - and least free-way intensive.

View Larger Map

Slightly longer - includes freeways and the ever colorful Yankee Doodle Road.

View Larger Map

Too Big?

Can a monitor ever be too big? The answer for me is, "Yes".

Our department admin was so proud that she scored these nice new monitors for everyone. I'm less excited. With my glasses (progressive lens bifocals) I find I have to turn my head from side to side, and up and down, to take it all in. I've gone to using my laptop open on my desk. The small screen is best for viewing everything at once, and it's low enough and can be angled "just right" so my bifocals work great.

I still have a tuck-under keyboard - but it's screwed to the "wrong" spot since I don't use that cool, new, BIG monitor. Instead I just tap away on my laptop and use the big screen when someone stops by and I want to show them something - or like today (the other 95% of the time) when it's a great venue to showcase my desktop background. That's a photo snapped Tuesday morning while walking Duke.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dry, Dryer, Driest

Some dry-looking plants along the walking path at work.

We are enjoying a long run of crazy nice weather. We’ve had about a full week of highs in the 80s, windy, and dry.

On Saturday Shana asked me to dig a hole to plant a new shrub rose. I dug down about 18 inches and it was bone-dry the entire way. I’ve never seen it that dry before.

We’ve been watering that rose, and other parts of the yard all weekend. We’re not looking for lush green grass, but want to get some moisture in the ground before the inevitable freeze and snow.

But we will enjoy the shorts in mid-October while we can!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Getting Better - Thanks to Caribou

Things are looking up - with my free coffee our in-house Caribou. Hmm - The note says I should call a radio station and tell them how this gift made me feel. Won't go that far - thanks anonymous benefactor and/or KTIS. For the record, I felt "good" - which might not sound like much, but given my day up to that point, that's not bad.

For a warm, almost summery Friday it's been a very frustrating day – though I did make it to 9:19 AM before sending my first crabby email. It's amazing I made it that long.

I’m trying to accomplish one big thing that MUST BE DONE all the while answering questions about our products from what seems like every sales person out there. Here's a hint to those who want my attention - Microsoft Outlook's Red Exclamation Point of High Importance does not help. Once everyone starts using them - it's like working in a bell factory - you can't hear the ringing anymore.

Ahh - the power of coffee - especially FREE coffee!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Always the Last to Know - School Bomb Threat

I've never been one of those "Helicopter Parents" but this would have been nice to know about. Cut and paste from Roseville Police Press Release:

During the late evening hours of Tuesday, October 4th, Roseville Police Detectives arrested and placed a 15-year old Maplewood male at the Ramsey County Juvenile Detention Center on a probable cause Terroristic Threats violation.

It was at 12:53 p.m. on Tuesday, October 4th, the Roseville Police Department responded to a bomb threat at Roseville Area High School located at 1240 West County Road B2.

Roseville Area High School officials told investigating officers an anonymous caller had called the school and left a voice mail message indicating he would “blow-up” the school at the school at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, October 5th.

Police and school officials searched the school and found no suspicious items.

During the subsequent police investigation, detectives learned the identity of the suspect who made the bomb threat to the school. When questioned by detectives, the youth admitted to making the bomb threat to the school as “a prank.”

This 15-year old suspect was charged by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office earlier today with felony terroristic threats.

The Roseville Police Department is continuing to investigate this case to determine if others were involved.

Still haven't received a communication from school - the Shana got this via email from the City (she subscribes to all their news via email).

Update - Shana reports there is a voice mail on the home phone left at 9:30 AM today. They were probably waiting to see if the bomb went off at 7:30 before calling. Considering I knew all about homecoming week BEFORE it even happened, thanks to the School's listserv email, you think they would notify us Tuesday - the day of the arrests, etc.

Yo - Ho - Ho - We Won!

There was a little friendly competition amongst the groups at work to prepare a basket for a local charity silent auction.

The theme involved shelter as the charity, Dakota Woodlands, is all about shelter – so birdhouses were distributed. We were told to prepare a gift basket using the bird house in some fashion. Since our bird house was a pirate ship we decided to go the rum and treasure route.

You can see the finished product with the bird house painted by yours truly. There are several bottles of rum, a $100 gift certificate to Treasure Island Resort and Casino, and some poker chips.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Urinetown - the Trailer

While I cleaned the kitty litter boxes this afternoon, Maria and the cast of the Roseville Area High School's production of Urinetown was having a lot more fun - filming this trailer. Everyone is getting excited - opening night, October 28.

Vocal Strain - The Hobbled Voice

We have a bona-fide theater related injury at the Hobbled Household - Maria is suffering from vocal strain. As much as I like to include pictures in my posts, there is no way (with phone camera) to capture a picture of what vocal strain looks like. There really isn’t much to see.

If she were in the traditional sports, it would be easier to demonstrate injury – and elicit sympathy – with a cast and crutches – or at least a limp.

Mostly it looks like a quiet 14 year old – which I realize is rare. Maria is under doctor’s orders to maintain “vocal rest” which is easier said than done.

Things were going fine for Maria’s voice despite (or because of) three choirs, private voice lessons, and rehearsal for Urinetown five nights a week. Then something happened. After a particularly forceful solo at rehearsal, M reported her throat hurt. After a few days without improvement we consulted with her voice teacher, who recommended a doctor who works with singers. (He is also the father of one of M’s classmates). The ENT observed a thickening on one side of her vocal chords.

Recommendation: “Vocal Rest” – limited (or no) talking. No singing – but she continues to attend U-town rehearsals – but is not singing in the choirs – merely attending – and lip-synching (kidding). Avoid pop (soda for you non-Minnesotans), tomato based stuff – pasta sauces, pizza, etc – and citrus (OJ, etc). She is on Prednisone and an ant-acid to deal with possible acid reflux – which is common among singers because the heavy pushing with their diaphragm can cause the stomach acids to sometimes leak through – further irritating the already injured vocal chords.

I expect the remainder of the weekend to be quiet. I’m sure there will be no whining about homework as that would be a violation of the “vocal rest” protocols.

Friday, September 30, 2011

September Wrap Up

Duke observes early falling leaves in late September.

It's been a poor month for blogging. In order to finish on something of a high note, I thought I'd conclude with a list of items that I could have (should have) posted on this month but was too busy or otherwise distracted to post. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I've thrown in some pictures to help move things along.

Back to School - The Dude started 6th Grade, Maria started 9th/High School

Maria was cast as Hope Cladwell in her Roseville Area High School's production of Urinetown. It’s a great opportunity for her – and a bit overwhelming (at least it seems that way to the parents).

Fall - my favorite season.

Finally, given that it is Friday, and I do love my oldies - here's the Easybeats performing Friday on My Mind. Heard this one many times over the years on oldies stations but never seen the group - much less heard/seen them live. Quite the energetic lead singer - dig that crazy shiny shirt. [Hat tip, Maverick Philosopher.]

Let's hope for a better-blogging October.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Orange - My Favorite Fall Color

Above - some early orange amongst the yellows,browns, and greens discovered on the walking path at noon. Below, some fall color (or at least drying flowers) from the home garden.