Wish Me Luck

It is one of those rare occasions.  The sun, moon, planets and stars have all aligned, and we ALL have (well, all except #1 of 5) a Sunday without plans (except Church that is...)  It's a day off for me, it's a day off for my wife, and none of the kiddos have anything planned. 

For Christmas, we were given a gift from my Aunt.  A gift of four day passed to (was was then The Park at Mall of American) Nickelodeon Universe.  My wife and I looked at the calendar and noticed that this would really be the only opportunity to utilize these passes before they expire (because the sun, moon, planets and stars will not be lining up again in the foreseeable future), so we are gong to be heading out to the M.O.A. and spend the day at the new Nickelodeon Universe.

Many of my co-workers will be surprised to see an admission that I actually will be setting foot in that behemoth mall.  You see, the MOA is the reason I behave and go to Church..   Really?  The MOA is your motivation to go to church and be a good person you ask??  Well... Sort of..   You see, my version of Gehenna.  I fear that if I do not spend my life here on earth being a "good person" my eternity will be spent at the MOA.  Between the people, and the crowds, and public restrooms, and the outrageous costs, and the pushing, and shoving, and the people - oh, did I mention the crowds and the people??   My only hope is that it's sort of "nice" outside today, and that may discourage a "population of a small city" to stay home, providing me some "breathing space" thus relieving a little of my anxiety. 

Why would I submit myself to this hellish freak show of a nightmare?  Well... Because my kids love it.  Because my wife loves seeing the kids love it, and because I love seeing my wife & my kids loving it.  So, like all good dads do, I'll be "grinning and barring it" for my kids.

I'm sure I'll have a couple of pictures and stories from Gehenna from Nickelodeon Universe to share.

Now, kids - PLEASE do not ask me to take you to Chuck E. Cheese's.  I'll already have served my sentence...

Just Testing...

I downloaded the "Windows Live Writer" application to test and see how it would work. This is my first attempt at making a post for FOF using it.

IMAG0013It installs on your PC, then downloads your blog layout into itself. Once that is complete, you can open it up, and start typing in a window that shows the exact format your blog is. (some are wider, some are narrower, etc...) You can preview what it is going to look like on your blog without having to actually upload it, and you can make all the tweaks, changes, and formats you want BEFORE having to upload the post to blogger. (I don't know about everyone else, but I end up posting, and editing, posting and editing... Sometimes up to 6 times just to get the layout looking "just right"). (As an example, I was able to adjust the size of the pic on your left so that it lined up with a paragraph (just like I wanted it to)

So far, I have to say this is not all that bad... Downloading and installing it was a bit of a pain (yes, I am still on dial-up).

It appears to let me add photos easily, and even "watermark" them!
(as you can plainly see in this photo of #5 of 5)

Bill, for moving photos around, this thing is the GREATEST!!! (We had a recent discussion about this...) Get in touch with me... I think you may really like this program.

This may also solve a problem that is plaguing my sister, and has been keeping her from using her blog to it's fullest!

I'll provide a full review after a few posts... But, from what I have seen so far, you may just want to give it a try.

FOF Observation #7

When you run out of "adult" toothpaste, think twice before smearing some Aquafresh "Bubblemint" on the ol' toothbrush...

As much as it looks like real "toothpaste", and the kids love it (which is the purpose it serves) - You will go to work debating which would be worse..

To brush, or not to brush - That is the question..

Whoops!

If you read The Life of a Father of Five through a "feed reader", you will know what I am talking about. (If you dont, then feel free to ignore this message).

Yes, I made a HUGE typo tonight, and sent out a post that was supposed to be an email...

Everything that could be changed, has been changed, and the account is secure again.

Thanks for your concern!

D.

Every tree starts as a sprout!

Yup folks, after a mere 350 Days, my sister (Two Texas Twins) finally got bit by the blog bug.

She has so many amazingly funny stories about raising a couple of little "Tasmanian Devils" my loveable nephews. I wanted to establish a way that she can share the stories with her family and friends from far away. So, on April 12th, 2007 - I gave her the "gift" of a blog. I built a rudimentary / basic blog for her. Then, on the same day, I handed the "Blog Baton" over to her by sending her an email with instructions, logins, passwords, tips, tricks, etc...

There have been several instances where I thought she was going to start blogging. She would ask me to resend her the instruction email, call up with some questions, etc.. Then, recently one of her closest friends also started up a blog. I was certain that my sister would then succumb to HER blog... But alas, nothing ever came of it.

But, today (out of the blue) she sent me an email, letting me know that she submitted her first post! (Heck, it even mentions me! - Blushing...)

So, please do me a favor.... Drop on by there, and send her some FOF luv! She'd love to hear from you! Let's drop some "fertilizer" on that tiny seed (that is her blog) and let's see if we can grow a great big giant redwood!

Be sure to tell her who sent you!! (That way I can hold it over her head too!)

Oh, and by the way... Normally when I say "drop some fertilizer", you'd hear me snickering in the background because I'd be referring to something more akin to "manure". (My sister will attest to my sophomoric sense of humor!)

Oh, sister of mine, fear not the day my nephews can truly appreciate their uncle's sense of humor!
From what I have seen and heard, I think your boys and I - we'll get along juusst fiinnee!
(Who do you think is going to get them their first
remote controled, battery operated fart machines???)

But in THIS instance, I'm asking for more of an "encouraging", and much less of a "poopy" sort of "fertilizer" be spread upon her blog - Two Texas Twins.

Thanks in advance folks!

Unattainably Daydreaming

(Crossposted on both The Life of a Father of Five, and My Unattainable Dreams)
--------------------------------------

I have mentioned (and to those that know me can attest to this) that I live with an unexplainable yearning to hermit myself away into the solitude of the Alaskan wilderness. This stems from a lot of different sources, some explainable (and understandable) while others stem from the more "socially anxious" nether-regions of my psyche that I have yet to fully understand.

Why Alaska? I am not sure. I think it has to do with population density (solitude), the weather (colder), the pristine beauty of the untamed wilderness (more of the solitude), and an intrigue of the unknown (which is very-very unlike me).

I have a "secret stash" of books and movies about Alaska and of people whose lives, stories, and adventures have become part of the Alaskan history, legend, and folklore.

Some examples of items from my "secret stash" include...

One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey - A Book by Sam Keith about Richard Proenneke
Alone in the Wilderness - A movie based on the book "One Man's Wilderness"
Alaska: Silence & Solitude - A movie that (although a big part of it) deals with more than just Proenneke.
Grizzly Man - A movie about the story of Timothy Tredwell
Nights of Ice - A book by Spike Walker about Crab Fishing on the Bearing Sea

Well, I guess that does not seem like such a huge "stash" of items... But I have also surfed, and read up a lot on both Proenekke and Tredwell... When it comes to these stories, I am like a sponge... I cannot get enough!

So, recently when the movie "Into the Wild" came out on DVD, you can imagine I was (to say the least) intrigued, and wanted to find out more. I discovered it was a move, based on the book "Into the Wild" (by Jon Krakauer), which was the true story of Christopher McCandless. I'm not going to go in to a lot of details about McCandless' story (you will need to read the book or see the movie for that). I found the movie hauntingly fascinating. The story of McCandless has been on the forefront of my mind for three days now. I have made a commitment to myself to add both the movie and the book to my "secret stash" (oh, yeah.. and to read the book too)...

While surfing info about McCandless, I came across a couple of other stories that have caught my attention, and now feel the need to find out more about them.

First is the story of John Mallon Waterman who's forage into (what appeared to be) insanity came to an end when his gear was located (without him) in March of 1981 after a solo attempt to ascend Denali (Mount McKinley) in which he departed in the early winter of that year. There is very little info available about Waterman that I have been unable to unearth, but I will continue trying.

I also came across the story of Carl McCunn. McCunn was also an Alaskan Adventurer who was air dropped in the Alaskan Interior for a photographic excursion. McCunn was left with ample supplies, and provisions for his needs - but neglected to make arrangements for anyone to pick him up at the end of his adventure. No one actually realized he was missing until the Alaskan State Troopers discovered his camp a year later. With him the Troopers found a 100 page journal.

Both McCandless and McCunn both left behind journals of their time in the Alaskan Wilderness. I understand that "Into the Wild" (both the Book and the Movie) are based on McCandless' Journal. What I would love to read is what exactly went through their minds (in their own words) throughout their adventure / ordeal. I have yet been unable to locate (in either published or unpublished (text, PDF, etc) formats) a copy of either of the unabridged journals of McCandless or McCunn.

If you are reading this post, and know of a source that would allow me access to the text of these Journals, PLEASE - use the link on my sidebar to drop me an email. I would be ever-so-grateful. Regardless of your view on these men and reasons for wanting to undertake such an journey, their stories are tragically important, and I (for one) am intrigued by these stories.

If you have not yet read the book, or seen the movie "Into the Wild", then please read the article "Death of an Innocent" (also by Jon Krakauer, author of "Into the Wild"). As for an internet article, it is long. But if you find Alaska, Richard Proenneke, or the stories of Timothy Tredwell, John Mallon Waterman, and Carl McCunn at all interesting, you will NOT be disappointed.

Fear not dear friends, family, and regular readers. You can take comfort knowing that I will not be undertaking a "life threatening" solo Alaskan Adventure. (a fact that my wonderful wife (the Mother of Five) will be glad to see that I "admit" to). You see, as much as I dream about dropping off the grid, and disappearing into the solitude that is the Alaskan wilderness, that opportunity has passed me up. It passed me up one wife ago, five children ago, one house ago, and 100 lbs ago. My family obligations prevent me from ever reaching this "Unattainable Dream". BUT.... Since I acknowledge I will never really disappear into the Alaskan wilderness, I feel it's ok to maintain it as just that. An "Unattainable Dream". So I will not feel guilty keeping and even adding to my "secret stash".

Don't misunderstand me though. I WILL visit Alaska one day. It will be an "extended" visit that includes both urban and rural settings. The difference is that this visit will include an "end date" (and unlike Carl McCunn, will have an "exit plan").

Now that I have decided it's ok to maintain this as an "Unattainable Dream" I discovered a couple of other items that are slated to be added to the "secret stash"...

The Frozen North - A movie of footage taken by Richard Proenneke with his 8mm movie camera
Danger Stalks the Land - A book by Larry Kaniut (includes information about Mallon McCunn)
Working the Edge - A book by Spike Walker about King Crab Fishing off the Alaskan Coast

Thanks for letting me daydream (unattainably daydream) with you...

Sand Creek Ice Jam

(Content Modified / Edited on 03-20-08 @ 2356 hours)

Today, I took #2, and #3 of 5 (and myself) for a haircut. As we drove to a local hair cuttery, I happened a glance (as I usually do) at Sand Creek, as we passed over the bridge. Some times it is low, sometimes it is high, sometimes it is frozen, but today was the first time I had ever seen it like I did today. As I drove over the bridge, and took my peek at Sand Creek I noticed a pretty significant Ice Jam.

Since we did not have appointments for our haircuts, I contemplated pulling over and taking a peek at the sight, but since I did not have my camera and I had several other errands to run, I decided to pass. I thought to myself that we can peek again after our haircuts - on the return trip back home. Expecting to see that the Ice Jam had cleared itself up, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Ice Jam was still in place.

Before going home, I took a small detour to the park that Sand Creek cuts through (and where the Ice Jam just happened to be). The boys and I got out, and went down the the banks of the creek. There was about 1 / 4 of a mile of Sheets of ice (just under a foot thick) all bunched up, caught in what looked like some rocks, and some overhanging vegitation. I decided that this was too unique an opportunity to pass up, so we went home (to fetch my camera, and my hiking boots).

Once we arrived home, #2 of 5 was too interested in playing with the neighbor and their Lego's. He did not have an intrest in returning to the Ice Jam. Intrigued, and hearing that her brother did not want to go back, our #4 of 5 said she wanted to come along too. So, after packing up the camera, donning my hiking boots, and getting #3 and #4 of 5 ready to go - we headed out!

We walked some of the Ice Jam, and discovered the end of the jam. It was pretty surreal. It all looked as if it were all made from plastic. And don’t forget… From the road, the "icebergs" seemed much smaller, but in person - some of them were HUGE!

I took a few photos of the Ice Jam. The photo on the left is a photo taken while looking out past the end of the Ice Jam. The photo on the right was taken looking back up the creek INTO the Ice Jam.



Well, if you have not been able to figure it out from the photos above, I'll let ya in on a little secret….

You see... Not only did we go out and get photographs of the Ice Jam... I decided I could get the best photos from out ON the Ice Jam! So, in my best imitation of Laura Croft and Tomb Raider - I made my way over the jumble of ice blocks until I reached a unusually large, and steady / stable block of ice. I had #3 of 5 take a few photos of me (out in the ice jam) from the bank of the creek.

He became so excited, he all but started "squealing". I decided to take a chance. (OK folks, here is where I beseech you all NOT to contact the local Child Protection Authorities.... I USED TO BE a pretty outdoorsy kind of guy, I am unusually careful, and NOT really much o a risk taker. So, you'll have to trust me when I say we were all relatively safe.) I had #3 and #4 of 5 jump out from the bank onto one of the Ice Bergs I was standing on and together we all worked out way out to that large and steady Ice Berg!



Since the police never showed up to take custody of the kids from me, and no one fell in, or even got wet, I decided that I had already beaten the odds so we headed back to the bank. We made it back to safety without incident, and walked the entire length of the Ice Jam.

You have to trust me, when I say these photos do not do justice to the Ice Jam. There were some sheets of ice that were sticking straight up into the air... Almost as tall as me (and I shop at the "Big & Tall" departments... Because... Well, because I am both Big and Tall!) Some of these sheets of ice stuck six feet above the surface of the creek... All wedged together... Some of these sheets had to weigh into the "tonnage" scale. It was truly an amazing sight!

And after a long winter, it felt really good to get out into the outdoors!It was a gorgeous day outside, and a chance to get out with the kids a little bit, and to take them (and me) out of our comfort zone.

It was an afternoon that memories are made of!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

P.S. Ed, if you are reading this post... Yes, this is the same Sand Creek that your ATV "fell" into. Remember that long (and wet) hike back to my house to talk me into helping you "raise the Titanic" and get that ATV of yours back??? Yup... It's that very same creek... About a mile up river... Only this time - I stayed dry!

It only took me five months!

Well, this is less of a post, and more of an "Advertisement" for one of my other blogs.

After much prodding by my friend, co-worker, and fellow Blogger Bill, and a recent "fire under my butt" comment by VancKirby I made a promise to myself to have my Duck Hunting - 2007 post finished by April 1st.

Well, I have finally finished it, only five months after the fact - which is six months better than Duck Hunting - 2006 which took me eleven months to write (check the "Quick Comments" when you get over to Dad's Outdoor Journal to see for yourself!).

Be warned. It was just a few lines shy of five pages in Microsoft Word.

So, ladies and gentleman, please help yourself to a heapin' helpin' of Duck Hunting - 2007!

Shameless Self Promotion

I recently stumbled across a "best of" site for bloggers - aptly named "The Best of Blogs" or BoB's for short. While surfing the site, and checking out last years contest / results, I noticed that this year the BoB's underwent some changes. A new category, and a new rule were added.

#1 - New category - Best Daddy Blog
#2 - New rule - Ability to self nominate.

As I checked out the (new) category of Best Daddy Blog there were only FOUR nominations.... Yup... Only four.

Well, since I maintain a regular diet (or perhaps a diet that keeps me regular) of father bloggers - (of whom you can find in my sidebar!) I was feeling a bit embarrassed (as a father) for the measly turn out for nominations of us father bloggers. I went ahead and committed an act of shameless self promotion, nominating The Life of a Father of Five as a candidate. BUT... I took my nomination(s) a step further.

I also nominated several of the fathers of my "regular haunts". I felt compelled to add these nominations, because... well frankly... because I have established a "blogging" friendship through comments and emails with these fellas. There are some really great guys and great fathers out there - many (if not all of them) who do not get the recognition that they deserve. Fathers and Fatherhood is taken for granted all too much in our society.

So, please do me a favor - check out the BoB's, check out the Father/Daddy Blogs out there too. They all have some interesting things to offer the world (and most of them are much more interesting than FOF too!)

It's going to be another one of those summers...

It's only March, and I have had one of those epiphany moments regarding this summer.

I have finalized my "shift pick" for next trimester. (We rotate shifts, and days on / days off - three times a year) and my vacation request has been submitted. I will be guaranteed 3 of the 7 days I have requested. The remaining four days hang in limbo for the time being. I hope to have word by June as to wether I will have the other (or which of the other four) I have off. I may end up having to work one day, half of a shift, or any combination of the four days that are "in limbo" in the middle of my vacation.

That, my friends, is one of the downside of working a job that is considered "essential".

So, now that I have my schedule finalized, and having penciled in this summers"obligations" (one short getaway with my in-laws, one short fishing trip with my cousins, a visit from my sister and her family (from Texas) and #2 and #3 of 5's Scout Camp (Since this will be #3 of 5's first year in attendance, a parent is "strongly encouraged" to attend)) I have discovered that of the five weekends that I have off this summer, I am left with one whole weekend that is not spoken for. Yup folks, you have that right... As sad as it is... I have ONE WEEKEND OFF (that is not already preplanned with work or other obligations) BETWEEN MAY AND SEPTEMBER. Now, keep in mind that my days off are not limited to weekends. I do have other weekday "weekends".

Worry not regular readers... I am not too concerned about this situation, as I am confident that between now and May (when the new trimester starts) that SOMETHING will certainly take up that one and only available weekend - leaving me with a grand total of zero weekends off this summer.

The Prodigal Post

Yes, I promised a long and introspective post.

Well, to be frank and honest with you, as I started working my way through it, the post got just a wee bit too personal to "put out there" for public consumption. If you can find it in your hearts to forgive me for not following through on the promised post, I'd appreciate it.

I'll leave you with this...

I am frustrated by (and having to deal with) - Luke 15: 13-15
I am hoping (but not holding my breath) for - Luke 15: 17-21

'Nuff said.

A Quick Note.

It's been about a week, but I've got something a brewin'.

It's one of them introspective, and less "up" sort of posts, but it's been "therapeutic" to plan, and write.

A day or two yet.... Hopefully by this weekend at the latest.

With Great Sadness

It was with great sadness that I opened an email from my cousin Bob today. Bob forwarded an email sent by his brother (also my cousin) Mark. The email was about the passing of Gary Gaygax, the creator of Dungeons & Dragons.

D & D was a HUGE part of my youth.

For me, it all started with some grade school friends. D & D started as a "recess activity" for us, and spread to become the reason for, and primary focus of quite a few after school, weekend, and overnight get togethers.

Then (for me) the world of D & D spread to my neighborhood friends, and with my cousins.

D & D ate up a lot of my time, and even more of my money. I would scrimp and save for the next module, or manual. I would spend hours creating my own dungeons, filling them with monsters, treasures, and back-stories.

As with most "D & D geeks" (a badge I wear with honor!) - I became a computer geek. My first computer (a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A) hosted a game called "Tunnels of Doom" that was based on the RPG D & D.

I just cracked out my stash of D & D paraphernalia (yes, I still have all of it) and took inventory...

19 dice (4 of them still from the original D & D set I bought all those years ago)

The original Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rulebook
The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook
The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide (A personal Favorite)
The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual
The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeoneer's Survival Guide

6 Modules
B1 - In Search of the Unknown
C1 - The hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
S1 - Tomb of Horrors
S2 - White Plume Mountain
A4 - In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords
G1-2-3 Against the Giants

And a supplemental "aftermarket" 30 sided dice and matching Gaming Table book.

(I'll try to update this post with a photo of my "Childhood Treasures!")

Back in the day (early 80's) Dungeons & Dragons was associated with Satanic Rituals, and Devil Worship. I remember many people talking about it, and stories of "Dungeons & Dragons suicides" making the news. Many "religious" groups spoke out about the game. I'll tell you this - Dungeons & Dragons kept us busy and occupied for several years. And since "idle hands are the Devil's plaything" - I think the time I spent playing D & D played a part in keeping me OUT of trouble...

Well, Gary - wherever you are, you will be in my thoughts tonight.

As I fall asleep, I will undoubtedly do so to the thoughts and dreams of the many dungeons I have explored, the monsters I have slain, the treasures I have found, the worlds I have created, the friends I have made, and a childhood filled with happy thoughts of wonder, amazement, creativity, and imagination...

Thank you Gary.
God Speed.

ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND!!!

No, I did not hit the lottery...

But, I did hit 100,000... (One hundred thousand!)



It happened on my way to work this morning.

Class Ring

I keep a list of topics that I want to (at one point or another) cover here on FOF. (The list currently includes eight "topics" for FOF, and two unfinished posts for Dad's Outdoor Journal)

This blog was originally intended as a means to document some of my thoughts, observations, and life's experiences for my children to enjoy in the future. Since I have hit a bit of a "dry spell" I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to get back to my blog's roots by breaking into the "topic bank" of stories that are not only memorable, and meaningful in my life, but may be enjoyable for others to read as well.

This story starts in the winter of 1985-1986. It was a couple of months into my junior year. My high school (The Acadamy of the Holy Angels) has a tradition of sending the Juniors (11th Graders) on a "Junior Retreat". The Junior Retreat is held at a rustic, woodsy retreat center (I do not recall the name of the place). The retreat was overall unmemorable, except for one detail. Towards the end of the weekend, we had a "entire class" snow ball fight. I think most people that were attending the retreat joined in. I too partook in the snowball fight.

When the snowball fight was over (because the next activity was starting) and we all headed in. It was sometime later that day that I realized my class ring was missing. I was desperate, and spent most of my free time for the remainder of that weekend searching through the snow in the woods where we had the snowball fight.

As you can imagine, I was looking for the proverbial "needle in the haystack", and never did find the ring. I went home with a broken and heavy spirit.

It was not until OVER a year later (having completely forgotten about the ring) when in the spring of 1987 (my senior year) the overhead intercom at my school beamed out (for all to hear) "David _____ please report to the School Office."

As I nervously made my way to the office, I wondered what it is they could want with me... Was something I was wearing out of the realm of the "uniform policy" (yet again)? Did they find out that it was me that climbed to the top of the cupola when I skipped out of gym class?

As I approached the office I started readying my excuses, like "That science 'experiment' was quite accidental... After all... How would I know it would start a small fire??", "I know I am not supposed to be in the abandoned / forbidden / auxiliary building, but I was there for a reason. It was for the... for the... um, for the YEARBOOK... Honest!", and finally "There is a perfectly good reason I took that (abandoned / off limits) freight elevator down to the (forbidden) tunnels under the school... I just cant remember at the moment... Perhaps if you gave me a minute or two, I can come up with something..."
* Side note... All the "reasons", and "excuses" given here are real and truthful
shenanigans that I "may" or "may not" have taken part in during my tenure at
Holy Angels. "Officially"... (and for the record), I evoke my Fifth Amendment
right so as to avoid any issues of self-incrimination for any such shenanigans.
When I arrived at the office, I was relieved to note that there were no police officers, principal, or my parents present... Heck, given the lack of authority present, how bad could this be?

The secretary asked me if I had lost a class ring...

I had almost forgotten about it. I answered yes, and low and behold the secretary produced a tiny (ring sized) manilla envelope that indeed contained my class ring.

Stunned, I asked the secretary about how the ring came to be here in the office. I was told the story of a young Boy Scout who was camping at the same retreat center just a few weeks prior, and while on a scavenger hunt in the woods, located my class ring among the leaves, sticks, branches, and debris. The young Scout had returned to his Scout Master with my ring, and they made it a "project" of trying to track down the owner of the ring.

They had the following bits of evidence to work with.

School: Academy of the Holy Angels
Class of: 1987
Initials: D_ _

Armed with that bit of information, the ring made it's way back to the school office, where the staff took a quick look at the roster of (now nearly graduated) Seniors (Class of 1987), and quickly located my name (based on the initials).

Nearly 16 months later, and a whole year of seasons, and guests of the retreat center, my class ring was back on my hand.

- - - - - - - -

Had it not been for that ring being found, it is possible that you would not be sitting here reading FOF. For that ring played a significant roll in me becoming the Father of Five. (Hmmm... That sound like a little "foreshadowing" of another one of the "topics"??)

Now, what in the world made me want to write this story? Well, last June there was a local news story that went all around about a 13 year old girl who became a "detective" and tracked down the owner of a High School Class Ring she found. It was a fun story, and reminded me to get my "class ring" memory down.

The article (which I saved) is listed below... The original link is no longer active, so I am reposting the text (with full credits).

- - - - - - - -
The mystery of the lost ring
1968. 'DC.'
With these clues, aspiring
detective Aubrey Moryn was on the case

BY LIALA HELAL
Pioneer Press TwinCities.com-Pioneer Press

Inver Grove Heights Middle School student Aubrey Moryn, 13, has always wanted to be a detective.

About a month ago, she cracked the case of a class ring that's been missing for almost 40 years and returned it to its rightful owner.

It started three years ago, when her dad's friend Lester Lippert found the 1968 Simley High School class ring in a melting snowbank in a West St. Paul parking lot. He kept the ring as a project for Aubrey when she was old enough. On her 13th birthday, in March, she was given the ring and the task of finding its owner. She eagerly accepted and dived into her investigation.

"I felt like a detective the whole time," Aubrey said. "I felt it was important for me to do that, or this person may never get his ring back."

With only the class year and initials "DC" as her clues, Aubrey sought help from her teacher, school staff and librarian to get access to the high school yearbooks. After about a month of searching old yearbooks and making phone calls, she found the ring's owner: Dave Christianson, of Inver Grove Heights.

He last saw his ring in 1967, at Country View Roller Rink, which was at Concord Boulevard and 75th Street. He loaned his ring to a girl who asked if she could wear it for the night. Hours later, she said she lost it.

He and his friends scoured the roller rink and parking lot with no luck. At school, they asked her where she lost the ring, but she said didn't know, Christianson recalled. He had had the ring for less than two weeks.

"As the years went by, I just assumed I'd never find it," he said. "I kind of thought the gal decided to keep it."

The mystery grew when Christianson got phone calls about every decade from an anonymous caller who would ask him if he lost a class ring, wait for him to answer, then hang up.

"It wasn't really haunting, but it was just kind of weird to get these calls every 10 years and know that someone had my ring but they've never returned it to me," he said. "They'd just say, 'OK,' and hang up."

So when Aubrey called on June 8 to say she had found his ring, he was skeptical.

"I thought, 'Oh, boy, here we go again,' " he said.

After having him describe the blue-stoned ring to her, she told him his ring was at her school office.

"I was pretty excited," Christianson said. "I'm going, 'Wow! When can I come get it?'"
He got it back June 11.

And the ring fit as if not a day had passed by without it.

"I haven't gained or lost a pound since high school," Christianson said, laughing.

His picture wasn't in the 1968 yearbook, the year on the ring, because he was drafted the year before to go to Vietnam. When he got back, he earned his GED and worked in construction. Aubrey found his name by looking through the 1967 yearbook.

"I thought it was really special that she went through that effort to find me," he said. "It's a pretty good deal that I got it back." Christianson gave Aubrey a card and $25.

When he got the ring back, Christianson told his 82-year-old mother the news. In high school, he had been worried about what his parents would think of him losing the ring.

"She didn't even remember buying it for me," Christianson said.

News of the ring's return traveled to Snyder's, where his wife, Gretchen, has worked for 37 years. Her co-workers wanted to see the mystery ring, so he went over and asked his wife if she'd like to go steady with him.

"She wore (the ring), and we went steady that day," Christianson said.

When Christianson's son was in high school, he thought about getting a class ring of his own. But his father talked him out of it.

"I know what happens to them," Christianson said. "They either get lost or end up in the jewelry box."

Aubrey said she knows Christianson will cherish his ring for the rest of his life.

"I never knew I could do something so great that would bring happiness to this man," said Aubrey, who dreams of a career recovering lost pets and investigating animal cruelty cases. "It even brought a tear to his eye, he said, because he was reunited with his long-lost ring."

Aubrey is on to her next detective project. Lippert found another item to be returned - a 1956 class ring from an unknown school.

Liala Helal can be reached at lhelal@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-2173

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