Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Fever

I took this picture of our grill on the first day of spring. This view still hasn't changed much. We've had a few warm days, but they're usually followed by cold, snowy days. We haven't had steak since October. I'm really, really craving a nice grilled steak! I've already bought a lovely package of steaks that taunts me every time I open the freezer. I also bought a couple of slabs of salmon during the Lenten fish sales. I'm ready for spring activities, but all I can do is watch the snow s-l-o-w-l-y recede.

In the meantime, my brain has been working overtime trying to re-organize our schedule to fit our upcoming warm weather projects.

Last week Z and I went to the optometrist for much needed new glasses. On Friday I went to the doctor to have the 10-yr-old wart removed from the ball of my foot. I've been trying, all week, to contact Z's driver's training instructor to set up a time for his 6 hrs of behind the wheel training. L will, hopefully, have cataract surgery in April. Now, I just need to make a vet appointment for Hairry to start his heartworm meds for the summer.

Designs for CD/DVD storage, new desks for Z's computer and ours, and a workbench for the garage have been swirling around in my overcrowded brain. We hope that we can build these items before our contractor starts re-roofing our house.

Then, we'll have the rest of the summer to landscape our back yard and repair the electrical trench damage in the front yard. We'd also LOVE to fence the corner of our back yard to block out the view of our neighbor's junk.

Ideas are pouring from my head non-stop. WHEN will the weather warm up enough to put my thoughts into action?!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Here is a man who was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village. He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty, and then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office.

He never owned a home. He never set foot inside a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He had no credentials but Himself.

While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies. He went through the mockery of a trial. He was nailed upon a cross between two thieves.

His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had on earth while He was dying -- and that was His coat. When He was dead, He was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.

Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today He is the centerpiece of the human race and the leader of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that ever were built, and all the parliaments that ever sat, and all the kings that ever reigned, put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as that One Solitary Life.

by James A. Francis

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

If This is Tuesday, It Must Be Hualien!

Photos courtesy of Google Image
SME and Doug are on an 8-day driving tour of Taiwan with Paul and Juliet. They've cruised the coast, driven above the clouds in the mountains, and soaked in the hot springs. They're having an amazing time!

Doug is suffering a bit of culture-shock with the food. Paul is quite good at picking out safe Mom & Pop cafes. The only problem is that these cafes have "garbage bag tablecloths, Kool-Aid in plastic pitchers, herbs drying in cardboard boxes, and styrofoam menus". I think visiting the open-air markets on their first day, put Doug off the local cuisine. He was a bit freaked out by the sale of snake venom....fresh from a live snake, fly infested food-on-a-stick, and hemorrhoid cures(with graphic pictures), all being sold next to dining customers. He's been whining for pizza for the last couple of days.

In all fairness, SME said that some of the food CAN be a bit "iffy". The dishes that aren't overwhelmed by garlic, smell suspiciously like "...a cross between herbal medicine and compost".

Yesterday, they visited this Buddhist cave temple, called Eight Fairy Cave. There's a lot of ancient history in Taiwan, in addition to the natural beauty. We've been researching all the places SME and Doug have mentioned in their emails. This has been a great way of sharing their vacation, without the expense and "iffy" food.

I'm certain that SME will fill us in on all the details on her blog when she returns.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I got this in an email from a friend. It puts a whole new slant on the holiday! ENJOY!

The reason the Irish celebrate St. Patrick's Day is because
this is when St. Patrick drove the Norwegians out of Ireland.
It seems that some centuries ago, many Norwegians came to
Ireland to escape the bitterness of the Norwegian winter. Ireland was
having a famine at the time, and food was scarce. The Norwegians were
eating almost all the fish caught in the area, leaving the Irish with
nothing to eat but potatoes. St. Patrick, taking matters into his own
hands, as most Irishmen do, decided the Norwegians had to go.
Secretly, he organized the Irish IRATRION (Irish Republican Army to
Rid Ireland of Norwegians)
Irish members of IRATRION passed a law in Ireland that
prohibited merchants from selling ice boxes or ice to the Norwegians, in
hopes that their fish would spoil. This would force the Norwegians to
flee to a colder climate where their fish would keep. Well, the fish
spoiled, all right, but the Norwegians, as every one knows today, thrive
on spoiled fish. So, faced with failure, the desparate Irishmen
sneaked into the Norwegian fish storage caves in the dead of night and
sprinkled the rotten fish with lye, hoping to poison the Norwegian
But, as everyone knows, the Norwegians thought this only
added to the flavor of the fish, and they liked it so much they decided
to call it "lutefisk", which is Norwegian for "lucious fish".
Matters became even worse for the Irishmen when the Norwegians started
taking over the Irish potato crop and making something called
"lefse". Poor St. Patrick was at his wit's end, and finally on March
17th, he blew his top and told all the Norwegians to "GO TO HELL".
So they all got in their boats and emigrated to Minnesota or the Dakotas
---- the only other paradise on earth where smelly fish, old potatoes
and plenty of cold weather can be found in abundance.
The End.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

SME's Adventure

SME and Doug arrived safely in Kaohsiung(Gow-shung), Taiwan. They will be spending the next 3 weeks in Taiwan, visiting Doug's son, Paul and his wife Juliet. SME got a bit airsick, from the turbulence, toward the end of their 12 hr flight, but she's feeling fine now. Doug is loving the 80F, with 83% humidity weather. He's not as thrilled with the pollution though.

Paul met SME and Doug at the Taipei airport. They then took this 180 mph railway to the south of Taiwan. I haven't heard if they enjoyed this part of the journey.

Z and I have been using SME's adventure as a homeschool lesson. Yesterday, we learned that Taiwan is 1/6th the size of MN, but has 6X the population. The time in Taiwan is 13 hrs ahead of us, so it will soon be Sunday morning there.

SME said that Paul and Jules live in a beautiful apartment complex, complete with waterfall, pool, palm trees and pineapple plants. She was a bit overwhelmed by the millions of scooters on the streets, and the obscene "Engrish" t-shirts worn by the teenaged girls: "Fuck One and Get One Free", "Gooey Tart", and "Take Your Top Off!" SME hopes the girls don't understand the meaning of the messages on their shirts.

Paul has a ton of neat activities planned, including a camping trip in the mountains. Paul's passion is scuba diving, and he has sent us many gorgeous pictures of his underwater adventures. Now, he plans on taking his Dad for a short dive, while SME and Jules lounge on the beach. Last night Paul planned a tour of the city after he finished teaching his evening class. The food should be a vegetarian delight for SME.

I can't wait to see the pictures and videos of their adventures!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Two Down, Two to GO!

He DID it! Z passed the written driver's test and is now the proud owner of a MN learner's permit! Now, he just needs to complete 6 hrs of behind-the-wheel training and practice driving for 6 months before he can take the driving test to get his license.

It's been a busy week, here in the snowbound north. Driver's tests are only given on Tuesdays here, so Z and I spent Tuesday afternoon taking his written test, then going to the License Bureau to file the paperwork for his permit.

Wednesday, we went to town for groceries. After we put the groceries away, I decided it was a good day for Z to learn some driving skills. At +30F, it was the first above zero, sunny day we have had for awhile. We ventured over to the empty parking lot of the neighborhood bar to learn a few moves. He did quite well for his first time behind the wheel! He practiced left and right circles and learned how to pick a spot and back up into it.

It's totally foreign to me having a 15-yr-old son who has NEVER driven before. Being an old farm girl, I have been driving since I was 8-yrs-old. My first driving experience was pulling the plow behind our old Cub tractor. Our family often camped in remote areas, so my Dad always made sure that I knew how to safely drive every vehicle we owned. You never know when tragedy would strike and I would need to drive back to civilization on my own. Nowadays, there isn't an uninhabited place where a young child can learn to drive.

After learning how to steer in the parking lot, we took the plunge and crossed the highway to take the back road to my parents' house. Z was a nervous wreck, but performed admirably! The only glitch was when Z activated the windshield washers the first time he used the turn signal.

I was impressed with Z's maturity when he got out of the truck: "Are people serious when they tell me that a year from now, kids my age will actually attempt to drink and drive? There's WAY too much stuff to keep track of while driving. WHY would someone muddle their senses by drinking before driving?" I pray that he remembers this statement in the future!