Monday, March 31, 2008

Saying Goodbye to Lance

Services were held this afternoon for DSU student Lance Parliament, who was in one of my classes. His death came in a fatal car crash with a bus last Wednesday as he returned to Madison from Sioux Falls. He was a good young man, and the services revealed how much he had connected with the people here, from faculty members and administrators to students in his classes. He was a welcome addition to the classroom and will be missed.

Snow Day = Snowman Day

While the wife and I were at work today, slaving away in classrooms, meetings, and more meetings, Anica and Walter got to stay home and play. We came home to clear walks and this little pale fellow to greet us in the back yard. I wasn't sure how to read his expression, but the other two are pretty easy to identify.

Meanwhile, it's snowing again!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Saturday and Schmeckfest

Freeman Academy in Freeman, SD, has held a Schmeckfest every year for the past 50 years, and this year we got tickets, so we and the B's, along with our madchen, went down, looked over the cool stuff, and enjoyed their good Mennonite cooking.
They apparently serve about 1000 people each of the four days of the fest, driven mostly by volunteers who collectively raise over $100,000 for the school each year. Impressive!
On the campus is also a good museum, and the fest includes demonstrations of such activities as basket weaving, soap making, and cooking the good, old-timey stuff like poppy-seed rolls, bierocks, and other stuff (like handmade pot holders). There's another opportunity next weekend to check it out. It's worth a drive!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

House Progress

Over the past week there's been some progress on the interior of the big house, with sheetrock and the first and second coat of mud put up. Outside, the trees have been trimmed, more of the old wood has been consumed by the big stove, and the porch is becoming again a gathering place more than a project storage center.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Back from Foodville

Now that spring break is coming to a close, it's perhaps worthwhile to recount the gustatory travels we've been on. They include some New Orleans jambalaya and chocolate bread pudding with pecan/caramel/Kahlua topping, shown here, a night in Tuscany supper that featured roast pork, fancy bread, fine wine, and chocolate cake, and an Easter meal that included ham, potatoes, veggies, beans, bread, and this bread bunny that had us eating out of his belly. We ate him as well. Top the meal off with some pie--pecan, lemon meringue, apple--and some strawberry brownie dessert, and you should be able to call it a good day. But will you come back to life when all's digested? We'll see! Eating's not all we did, but it does seem to have occupied a big part of our week. Thanks to all who cooked!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Paradise in a Pan

Sometimes you don't have to travel to reach an island of paradise; sometimes Xanadu comes out of the oven. Imagine fragrances during the half-hour these spent cooking, the anticipation as they came from the oven bubbling caramel, the satisfying whump as they flipped onto the foil, the sweet scramble as you make sure none of the caramel gets left in the pan, and then . . . you've arrived. A little butter, a plate, a fork, and a passport to a sweet beyond.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Traveler IQ Challenge

Since I'm not bound for any sites afar, I found myself this morning playing a quiz game on, which tells me I'm not too bad at my geography. Faced with a world map and the name of some city or famous site like the Eiffel Tower, you aim your mouse at the map and click. You get points for getting close and for speed. It ain't easy! So far I've just reached level 9, but you have to score high enough to continue. Can you--quick!--find Suriname? I mean, without your Google map?

Not So Surprised by Snow

They'd been saying that snow was on its way here, and sure enough, we're getting a fair dose. It looks like a couple of inches so far of the wet and heavy stuff with more coming. Good thing I got my tree-trimming done yesterday--check out those cleaned-out trees.

The good dose of snow on the first real day of spring break drives home the different plans we have this year as related to last year, the blog postings from then (1 and 2) depicting a different scene than the one you see here.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Down from the Trees

Spring lurks at the corner of the street, its temptations wafting over the lot, its birdcall in the air. The sap is beginning to run, trees heavy with it, buds swelling. Grass that has emerged from the snow is already beginning to turn green, snow retreating even from the shadowy places. We've had rain, though frost is on the grass each morning. Courtesy of the mother-in-law, today we enjoyed some corned beef and cabbage, bread pudding, and good company, preparation for St. Patrick's Day tomorrow. Yesterday a few trees fell out at the Bechen farm, having served their purpose--no buds on their branches this spring. Friday evening we enjoyed companionship at the B's, a few beverages, some limericks, the first dose of corned beef and cabbage of the year.

This afternoon branches fell from the apple trees, my attempt at putting them to right, lopping off the diseased and withered, keeping the branches that mean to do the work of apple-making. Suckers and branches going in the wrong direction dropped into the yard, some well-dead wood already in the wood stove. Sore and satisfied, I plopped my tired bones down near that stove's heat and enjoyed the evening with spouse and dog.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth

Lunch today was sponsored by the Women's Day organizers here at DSU, and the featured speaker was an inspiring author of children's books, Jean Patrick, the author of The Girl Who Struck Out Babe Ruth, If I Had a Snow Plow, Who Carved the Mountain, and other books. She told about slowly taking hold of her dream to become a children's author and the struggles that she has faced to fulfill that dream, and to keep on working toward it. She's an accomplished speaker and is available for school visits. She'll appear as Jackie Mitchell (pictured here), if you like, the girl who struck out the Babe and Lou Gerhig. Good stuff.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Epic Adventure--Dog Rescues Cat

Okay, so I had managed to survive over 50 years without seeing "Milo and Otis," but enough is enough, and since we had a young visitor to the household, it seemed right that we take it on. Who knows how many pugs and kitties gave their all in filming this tribute to cross-species friendships. How many takes would it have taken in the kitty free-fall? How many in the turtle rescue? How many in the bear/pug battle? Or the cat/seagull encounter? How many in the birthing sequence, both dog and cat? "Made in Japan" is all over this film, with sequences that would have raised the ire of American animal-rights activists, even in 1983, when it was released in Japan (revamped for the US in 1989). Even the best animal trainers would have trouble, I would think, in encouraging a cat or dog to befriend a fox, deer, duck, chicken, goose, sheep, turtle, cow, and a passel of other animals for the filming of such an adventure.

Spellbinding? Heart-wrenching? Blood-curdling? Mesmerizing? Nah. Just Dudley Moore's voice and lots of cutsie animal antics.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Walter in His Dancing Slippers

Walter isn't all that bright, and he's getting a little old, so when he dances at the door expecting to get out to do his business, he's probably thinking he'll bolt for the yard, race along the fence, and sprinkle half a dozen spots on his top ten list. But when it's 10 below and he steps from the house onto a giant frozen planet, his ambition goes out the window and he'd just as soon piss where he stands. So he needs a little coaxing. It's nice to have the sprinkling done a few feet from the back door.

So, as part of that effort Walter was gifted some dandy slippers, which he first tried outside tonight. Ahem. He must have thought he'd been velcro-ed to the floor. The wife carried him to the back door, where, with some coaxing, he tried using them for ski boots. Once his ordeal was over, he did manage to get back to the house under his own power, looking something like a miniature Clydesdale the way he carefully (but quickly--it's 0 out now) lifted each foot.

The wife asked whether I'd like it if I would have appreciated it if someone had put me in shoes after having been without them all my life. Well, I told her, that's exactly what did happen to me. It's been some time ago, but I hope I took to it better than W did.

Our Dearly Departed Friends

Friends and students appear this week in the DSU production of "Dearly Departed," by David Bottrell and Jesse Jones, a comedy depicting the reactions of a family to the death of their "mean and surly" patriarch. It'll make you laugh. I had a bit part for the invited dress rehearsal and am listed as an understudy, but last night I just sat back and enjoyed the whole show. It was good to see students having such fun AND performing well.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

She Takes to the Slopes

Our German girl made friends with the ski slopes out in the hills, and although she took a raft of pictures, it appears that her camera is balking now at coughing those photos back up from its electronic depths. But the itty-bitty, ten dollar camera I sometimes carry in my pocket just to take bad pictures seems to have captured her here.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Downhill Easy, Uphill . . . Not So Much

When friends invite you out to their ski-cabin, you don't hem and haw. You hustle your buns across the state and slap on skis, jump on the lift, and swoosh down the mountain. If you're really feeling like you want to put your hosts to the test, you ask for a lift for the car, too. After all, shouldn't it enjoy a little ride uphill as well?