Big Changes in Small Town Minnesota

What constitutes big news in small town Minnesota??

Well, if you live where I do (besides all the local small town political bickering that goes on) it’s big news when something new (something with a highly visible physical profile) starts changing the landscape of the places we frequent here in town. 

gasstations

 

We are a “two gas station town”.  There is Yocum’s Holiday which is right off the interstate and Broadway Market which is located “deep” in town (By “deep in town” what I really mean to say is “eight-tenth’s of a mile”.)

(A) is Yocum’s and (B) is Broadway.  Broadway seems to have established itself as the “teen hang out central” for the kids in town (including my own #2 of 5 and #3 of 5 – who enjoy biking to Broadway with a couple of bucks for a pop and a treat and to see who else is “hanging out”.)

 

Throughout the summer, I heard rumblings of a possible new gas station in town.  It seemed odd to me as we are already doing pretty well with the two, but any new business in town (especially in this economy) is a good thing! 

Somewhere along late September, I was driving through town, and out of the corner of my eye I noticed big changes in the parking lot of Radermacher’s Fresh Market, and Jordan Ace Hardware (our local grocery store / hardware store that share a parking lot).

Alien Pod?  Cryogenic Hypobaric Chamber?  Alien Pod?  Cryogenic Hypobaric Chamber? 

I saw what I can only describe as either two giant alien pods, or two giant cryogenic hypobaric chambers - one slightly smaller than the other. 

Once the realization that a well publicized (well, tabloid publicized) infamous user of cryogenic hypobaric sleep chambers, along with his faithful sidekick “Bubbles”  (hence the slightly smaller cryogenic hypobaric chamber) were not going to be making a overnight stop here in our town – I recalled the earlier talk of new gas pumps being installed.

Intrigued, I decided I was going to document the progress of this new “attraction” in town… From two cryogenic hypobaric chambers dumped in the parking lot, all the way to functioning gas station.

Over the next few days, the only noticeable progress was the removal of the top layer of asphalt from the parking lot, a series of plumbing fittings assembled around the perimeter of the hole, and a sump pump sucking rain water that has (and would continue to) accumulate in the hole.

From a distance  moving in a little closer  moving in a little closer  plumbing behind the fence / tanks in the background    getting closer  future home of the tanks

After what seemed like an unusually lengthy wait for something… ANYTHING… to happen, one morning (out of the blue) a backhoe showed up and was digging.

Let the digging commence!  Let the digging commence

The backhoe spent several days doing what it does best – and then as quickly as it came, it was gone…  Along with the missing backhoes, the cryogenic hypobaric chambers were also absent (at least as seen from the road).  Upon closer inspection, the cryogenic hypobaric chambers were no longer “chambers”, but entombed cryogenic hypobaric sarcophagi – buried nearly a dozen feet into the ground, carefully nestled into their tomb with what appeared to be specialized fill all around them.

Entombed!  Entombed!

Not long after the cryogenic hypobaric sarcophagi were forever entombed in their resting place, the first “familiar” signs of the impending gas pumps started showing up.

Finally!!  PUMPS!

Once the pumps started showing up, and really getting my curiosity piqued, the project seemed to stall out again (at least for a bit).  I suspect the “powers that be” had some plumbing connections, and pressure / leak testing to finish up before finally putting a final layer of fill over the top – forever hiding the cryogenic hypobaric sarcophagi from the world (and finally allowing me to stop writing (and your having to read) the words “cryogenic hypobaric sarcophagi” over and over again).

Finally, the day came.  The hole was filled, and several small blue “portholes” showed up where (I suspected) the pumps would later be installed.

Things are disappearing!  Things are disappearing!

Here is where I (as a reporter of all things interesting in town, and the author of this photo archive) failed you.  See, “Life as a Father of Five” has a few drawbacks… Time limitations among the top of the list…  Between the time the “blue portholes” showed up and the final photos I have at the bottom of this post, I had not taken any further pictures of the progress…  

A little disappointed?  Yes.  Yes I am.

But like I said, having seen the pumps standing, installed “at the ready” – but without any activity around them, I was curious to what was next. 

One day in early November I had to run into the Hardware Store (it was with my dad while installing our new front door).  It was there in the lot that I ran into the Store Manager.  I asked him when the pumps were going “live”.  I was quite surprised to hear that the tanks were filled, the pumps were turned on, and there was nothing really preventing me from using the pumps (except the presence of a couple of State Regulators – who just happened to be putting their final blessings on the pumps as we stood there jawjacking….)  The manager advised me that the pumps should be up and running and the store was holding a “grand opening” that very evening!

Since I was busy (with the door) and did not need any gasoline, I missed the “Grand Opening” event – but two days later found myself driving by (while dropping a friend of #4 of 5’s back off at home after a sleep-over the night before) and realized I was out of fuel.

Up and running!  Radermacher's Fuel Express

With the two girls in tow, I pulled into “Radermacher’s Fuel Express” and pumped my first tank of gas from the beautiful, shiny new pumps!  In the darkness of night, with all the fresh new lighting on in the pump area, I’d almost call the scene “beautiful”!

(No, that’s not a tear you see welling up… I have something in my eye, now leave me alone about it!)

Just to give you a timeline for this post - the first photos (of the cryogenic hypobaric chambers – oops, I said it again) were taken on 09-28-2010, and these final photos were taken 11-06-2010.

Ahhh…  Nothing like big news in small town Minnesota, huh?

Happy Thanksgiving - 2010

This year Thanksgiving’s scheduled events were to occur at my parents house.  Mom really enjoys cooking, and serving up wonderful dinners (and truth be told I suspect she enjoys watching other enjoy her creations even more than she enjoys creating them)!

With the whole family off (including school) on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we decided to make it a “family day” – and take the opportunity to go see a movie.  The boys wanted to see “Harry Potter”, while the girls wanted to see “Tangled”.  Checking the theater times, we noticed that both movies had a start time within 10 minutes of each other – so we let the boys go see their movie, while the Mother of Five and I took the girls to see “Tangled”.

, The weather was a typical late November in Minnesota type of cold (cold, and dry) when we first arrived at the mall.  The weatherman had warned us about an impending storm, but it had yet made it’s presence known. 

Once the movies had finished and we had exited the theater back into the mall, the first thing I noticed while passing a window was the “significant” loss of visibility due to the falling snow.  The second thing I noticed was the “significant” accumulation of the falling snow upon the ground. 

Not good.  I had plans… 

For a couple of days ahead of time, I had posted “vague” status updates on Facebook – lamenting whether or not “this would be the year”…  People started wondering and asking – some with very funny guesses, but in the end, what it was all about was my desire to try and make “White Castle Turkey Stuffing”.  The plan was to show up at my parents house with a “surprise dish”!

With the weather outside getting “frightful” – it was time to load up the family and head home (hitting the White Castle we pass on the way home)…  That was, until mom called me. 

As it turns out, she was sick.

She was feeling so lousy that she was calling us, and asking us if we would mind taking on the task of having Thanksgiving dinner at our house instead of coming over to her house…

For those of you who know my mom, this is “significant”. 
Mom would not do this unless she was REALLY feeling badly.

She already had a turkey thawed, stuffing made, and a few other fixin’s ready to go – so she asked if we would brave the weather to pick up what she had prepared. 

We arrived safely.  Mom was indeed not feeling well, so once we had the better part of a Thanksgiving dinner safely tucked away in the back of our minivan, we wished mom our best and ventured forth through the treacherous weather toward home. 

Given all the changes that have just taken place, and the insurmountable odds of what we still had to get done before noon the next day – I decided that we would forgo the added task of stopping, buying and making the White Castle Turkey Stuffing this year.

Side note:  We stock up on turkeys when they are on sale around Thanksgiving.  I still have two frozen turkeys left in our freezer (Did I mention how much I LOVE turkey?) – We decided to forgo the White Castle Stuffing for Thanksgiving, and decided we would give it a try with one of the other turkeys at a later date.  The good news is that it is still going to happen, just a little later!

Thanksgiving TableSince Thanksgiving was now going to be hosted at our house, once we arrived home – it was time to clean, and clean like CRAZY-FOLK!  Several hours later, the kids and their parents exhausted – the house looked pretty darn good!!

The next morning, the focus was on the food… 

In addition to the Turkey, stuffing, and jello (provided by mom), we contributed apple and pumpkin pies (both home-made) , freshly made raisin bread (also home made) and the beverages including water, soda, coffee, hot spiced cider, and a small wine bar – while my mother in law brought the mashed potatoes, yams (or sweet potatoes), and another jello.

While the food was cooking we broke out our fine china (which rarely gets used – but is one of my wife’s favorite things - they are an heirloom from her Great Aunt and she very fond of the set!).  We put the extension in the dining room table, set up the wine bar, and pulled in chairs from everywhere we could!  In the end, we had a table setting for ten!

Thanksgiving Table  Mini wine bar  Gravy, cider, corn, and turkey  stuffing, raisin bread, and coffee

Thanks were given to God for our bountiful feast, and we began to “dig in”…

The meal was spectacular! 

Thanksgiving Dinner  Thanksgiving Dinner

After dinner the table was cleared and we sat around visiting while we “digested” in preparation for the home-made pies intended for dessert.

After dinner digestion  After dinner digestion

Time for some Table Games!

After desert we commenced playing a few table games… 

We started with Apples to Apples (junior edition), played a couple of games of “Mexican Train” dominoes, and finally, a rip roaring game of Monopoly (where my mother in law dominated the rest of us!)

It was a great Thanksgiving!  The only thing that would have made the day any better would have been to be able to have my Sister-in-Law (from Texas), my sister and her family (from New York), my brother-in-law and his family (from Illinois), and (of course) my mom (home sick) present.

What made this a unique and special Thanksgiving (for us) is the fact that we were able to celebrate it at our house. 

It’s not that we do not enjoy having Thanksgiving at our respective families homes (we do!), but it’s nice to be able to motivate ourselves to getting the house in “tip-top” shape, and to break out the special dinnerware, and to have our families over to celebrate a holiday in our home too! 

I guess what’s really important is spending the time with the family – which is exactly what we did!

Spending the Night in…

I was working the 3pm - 2am shift. 

Each day when we arrive at work we log in as either a "call taker" or as a "dispatcher" depending on who we are relieving.  This evening I was filling the roll of "call taker". 

The shift started off as "average" as any shift working 911 lines can get...  You know, a little bit of this, a little bit of that...  It was roughly 6pm when the freezing rain advisories started regularly coming across the teletype as an ominous foreshadowing of things to come.  The shift continued down it's "average" course, until 10:24 pm. 

The first call came in as a hit and run accident on the highway.  I was told that several cars slid into each other, but that one of them had fled the scene.

Before I was finished working with that call, more calls started coming in about another accident (this one with injuries) just a mile or two further down the same highway.  Another call (about the same accident) came in, and then another, and another.  It seems that this accident was a small "pile-up" and besides getting calls from those involved, the accident was getting the attention of MANY other passerby motorists.

Honestly, I lost track of time.  Somewhere around 10:45 the calls started coming in full tilt.  At it's worst, we were assisting on the accident with injuries, dealing with two or three multi car "pile-ups" (without injuries - one was twelve cars deep), two "rollover" style accidents, cars (and their occupants) stranded at the bottoms of hills and driveways (blocking the road), and so many fender benders that if my life depended on it, I could not give you a number.   We also dealt with several other ice related calls.  Slip and fall medicals, road condition requests, requests for salt / sand – not to mention all the regular calls for service that we handle (unrelated to the ice).

 

As my shift-end approached, it was apparent there was no way I could transfer the call load.  I stuck around another 30 minutes handling a number of additional calls (repeatedly saying "this will be my last call").  By the time I felt uncomfortable unplugging from my console, it was 2:30am.    

While this was all going on, I had voiced my concerns about making the 25 mile drive home.  I knew for a fact that most of the city streets I would be taking were all but impassible.  If I managed to make it there, I would be on a major highway for most of my trip.  The last 1/3 of my trip home is through a much more "rural" area – with a less driven, and less maintained status (i.e. will be covered with ice, and will have little or no salt / sand laid upon it..)

I received offers from a long time co-worker who lives close to work, and a second offer from one of our local firefighters to shelter me.  My parents home is also within 3-5 miles from my workplace -  but since it was going on 3am, my vehicle was parked (safely) in the underground garage, and based on the information I was receiving from hundreds of 911 calls, my police officers on the street, and other law enforcement agencies - I decided I was staying put.  I was not even going to risk driving the 3 miles to my parents home.

For a brief moment, I considered crossing a “bucket list” item off my list, by requesting that our jailer “put me up for the night” in one of the empty cells - allowing me to “Spend a night in jail”. 

The accommodations include a (less than comfortable) bed, a (hopefully disinfected) previously used blanket and pillow, a (not that I would use it) toilet, and a sink.  What more would I need (besides deodorant, a toothbrush, and a little cologne)? 

In the end, I chickened out.  I didn’t even ask.  I am certain there are some sort of rules, or laws prohibiting the law abiding from “spending the night in jail”.  I would also worry about what our “Admin Sergeant” and my supervisor would have thought about my mental health… 

Plus, I didn’t have a camera. “Spending a night in jail” would CERTAINLY be a blog-worthy event! 

After my shift was over, I packed up my stuff, headed down to my car and I napped from 3:30am to 7:00am.  I was awoken by all the comings and goings after the daywatch shift's rollcall, so I went back up to the 911 center and spent a couple of hours catching up with, and sharing the previous evening’s horror stories with the new shift of dispatchers. 

It was still very icy out, and I did not feel safe driving until (roughly) 9:45 am.  By this time, I decided driving home so I could have two or three hours there before having to turn around and come back was counter productive - so I took my cel phone (with alarm clock), my Sansa Fuze, and found the darkest room with a couch in it to further my napping endeavors.  My alarm clock woke me in enough time to make it to the next day’s rollcall at 2:45pm.

By the time I was finally able to leave, I had spent 30 hours at the police station, working for 17 of the 30.  It was an interesting experience, and although it’s not “Spending the Night in… JAIL” – I CAN say I “Spent the Night in… the Police Station”!

Maybe…

Today’s morning rituals were not unlike most school / work morning rituals around the FOF compound… 

The alarm clock started going off around 5:40am.  Several “snooze bars” later, and it was 6:10am.  Since it was 6:10am and I did not here the boys up and about yet, it meant that they too are “snooze barring” it, or may have even turned their alarm clocks off completely…  (They have yet to master the art of the snooze bar”…)  So, I crawled out of bed, went downstairs, confirmed that they were both still sound asleep, and herded their be-hinds out of bed. 

While they showered / had breakfast, I did a quick morning check in of email, Facebook, and Sitemeter, then went back upstairs where the day took a slight turn for the “different”.

I reached the top of the steps and was met with #4 of 5, lying on the couch, looking a little green around the gills.  She was exhausted and I could hear her wheezing (asthma) while sitting next to her.  We gave her the option of going to school and staying home, and after a short moment of reflection, she decided to stay home. 

Once #5 of 5 found out that her sister would not be walking with her to the bus stop, the Mother of Five leaving for work, #1 of 5 not home, #2 and #3 of 5 already having left for school, and #4 of 5 home sick, she turned to her second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth choice. 

“Daddy, would you walk with me to the bus stop this morning?” 

I have to admit, still in my PJ’s (toasty WARM in my PJ’s) and a temp in the low 20’s outside, for a moment I had to consider my options, but of course I snapped at the chance!  After all, how often does the “sixth string” guy get such an opportunity!

I double checked with her… “Honey, your not too embarrassed to have your big ol’ daddy take you to the bus stop, huh”?  She replied with the obvious… “No daddy, that’s the boys.” 

Yup, it’s true.  My 8th and 9th grade boys would rather die than have their dear old dad take them to the bus stop.

#5 of 5 - walking to the school bus stopSo I asked her…  “Will you let me take you to the bus stop when YOU are in 9th grade”… 

She looked at me, and gave me a resounding “Um, maybe”… 

CLOSE ENOUGH!!  I’LL TAKE IT!!

We bundled up and headed off to the bus stop. 

It is deep enough into the school year where we have reached the point that the first time kindergarten parents are no longer walking their kids to the stop (they are usually the hold-outs – walking with their kids long after the other parents have stopped).

I suspect enough time having passed since the first day of school and the weather being the contributing factors since I was the only parent out there. 

 

I visited with #5 of 5 and one of her friends at the bus stop until the bus came and whisked my daughter away to school.

 

 

 

As I stood at the empty bus stop, alone, watching the bus drive her away, I could not but help to wonder if I’ll be able to cash in on that “Maybe” in eight years… 

Now, THAT is What I Call a Friend!

Due to time and financial circumstances, along with some family and homeowner obligations that needed to take precedence, I bowed out of deer hunting (both with family and with friends) this year.  Not only did I bow out of hunting, I bowed out of the open invitation to join the crew at deer camp even if I wasn’t going to hunt.  (I suspect they were looking for someone to be “cook” for the weekend, but hey… That’s just a guess!)

Normally this would be pretty devastating to me, but this year my schedule and budget have been so tight that it was really not even an option.  I NEEDED to spend time with the family, and I WANTED to get the front door (that has been sitting in my basement since APRIL) installed. 

The weekend was good.  It was both enjoyable and it was productive!  As you can see in a couple of my previous - posts, I was successful in getting the door installed (with the assistance of my father), had a great “family day” with the the kids and wife, had another solo day preparing the new door to meet it’s matching storm door, and finally, a successful day getting the storm door installed (also with the assistance of my father).

Yet, throughout the weekend, there was a longing from within me. 

A longing for the solitude of the forests of northern Minnesota.  I was missing those unique sounds, sights, and smells that can ONLY be obtained by spending time alone in a deer stand with nothing but your thoughts to keep you company.  I missed out on feeling that odd connection with my ancestors of having to depend on your senses to hunt for your survival, pitting yourself against nature (even though we no longer need to hunt for survival). 

Just about the time I started feeling that longing, the emails started coming in…. 


From: Best Bud Ed
To: Father of Five
Date: Sat, Nov 6, 2010 at 7:12 AM
Subject: Too Much

I have to admit ........
I never thought I'd be sending you an email from the deer stand.


Quickly followed by an attempted Google Chat (also from the deer stand)

From: Best Bud Ed
To: Father of Five
Date: Sat, Nov 6, 2010 at 7:15 AM
Subject: Chat with Ed

7:15 AM Ed: You there?


What the??  Email, web surfing and IM chatting from the deer stand??  What is this world coming to??? 

Then, just when I had thought I had seen it all, an email with a photo of Best Bud Ed and his cheesy grin arrived, MOCKING me from his deer stand in the woods of northern Minnesota…  

Ahhh, the miracles of modern 3G technology!!

From: Best Bud Ed
To: Father of Five
Date: Sat, Nov 6, 2010 at 7:28 AM
Subject: Wish you were here.

Cheesy Grin 


It did not stop there, oh no – not by a long shot. 
He also sent me photos of time he spent relaxing by the fire, right about lunch time…

From: Best Bud Ed
To: Father of Five
Date: Sat, Nov 6, 2010 at 1:38 PM
Subject:father.of.five.5@gmail.com

Tryin' to make me jealous!


Over the next couple of days I received several other emails and photos from Best Bud Ed, describing the wonderful time he was having in the woods.

I tell you what…  It was about this time that I started thinking to myself how lucky I am, and how there is NOTHING IN THE WORLD like having a friend - A TRUE FRIEND (like Ed) – A friend who would be willing to take the time to share his experiences with you – especially since I was not there to it with him like I would have under a different set of circumstances. 


Then, two days later I woke up and was met with these two delightful messages in my in-box to greet me in the morning! 
Truly, the pièce de résistance!

From: Best Bud Ed
To: Father of Five (and a couple of other “lucky” recipients)
Date: Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 7:28 AM
Subject: Greetings from the deer stand.

Good morning, gentlemen. It's a balmy 33.8° in the stand this morning. Lots of dew on the ground but no frost. Making the woods and leaves very quiet.  The bald eagle greeted me this am with a nice call at sunrise. I suspect the squirrels will be awaking shortly.

I need to sign off as I've had a couple cups of coffee .........and there's nothing like coffee to lubricate the poop shoot. I'll begin my slow walk back to the outhouse.


Forty five minutes later, I get this email…
I think this one sums it all up!

From: Best Bud Ed
To: Father of Five
Date: Tue, Nov 9, 2010 at 8:15 AM
Subject: Re: Greetings from the deer stand.

Slow walk back?   I don't think so.....  that was cutting it pretty close.


Yup… I tell you what, there is NOTHING IN THE WORLD like the combination of a TRUE FRIEND (like Ed), who has unlimited access to a wireless 3G network, a smart phone, and a lot of extra time on his hands while sitting in deer stand in northern Minnesota during deer hunting season!!

The updated kept coming in….  


From: Best Bud Ed
To: Father of Five
Date: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 7:35 AM
Subject: Tails from the stand.

Like the play on words?  Tails/tales .......get it?

Deer Stand Breakfast!We had rain up here last night.  Temperature isn't too bad but it sure is damp.  Feels good to have windproof layers on this morning.  Just getting ready to eat breakfast ........

No ducks flying this morning.  Now that I think of it, no geese or swans either. Hmmm, I wonder if they know something that we don't.

My stand could use some brushing out.  Think you and I could do that?  It takes two people, 1 in the stand and the other brushing out. Pick a day or two during the winter when it's in the 20's. That's a good working temperature when you dress for it.


And then, finally, roughly 30 minutes later… This one came through.

From: Best Bud Ed
To: Father of Five
Date: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 8:06 AM
Subject: Re: Tails from the stand.

Got one. Small buck.


Ed did send a photo, but since I am not sure how everyone feels about seeing a photo of a field dressed deer right smack dab in front of them, out of respect (for the deer and for folks reading this post) I hid the photo behind THIS LINK.  (The photo is not what I would consider “graphic”, and I suspect will not be too offensive to most folks - I just wanted to err on the side of caution.)

The deer is far from “small”.  It’s rack (antlers) look disproportional to it’s body, which (I suspect) makes it LOOK small, but as I viewed the photo, what I saw was a decent sized deer!

I am glad Ed got a deer again this year!  I certainly enjoyed his “Tails from the stand” style updates (and I hope you enjoyed them too)!  He is certainly good for a couple laughs, that’s for sure! 

Thanks for the laughs, and for thinking of me Ed!! 

First Snowstorm!

Good thing I got the work done in the yard yesterday!  When I look at those photos and I look out the window this morning, it’s hard to believe it’s the same yard, not even 24 hours later.  I did not get the yard 100% complete.  I still have a few tasks to take care of, and I thought I would be able to do them this morning… That was until mother nature had her say….


 

Here's where it all beganIt started snowing yesterday evening while I was still at work.

By the time I got off duty (at 1am) the snow had started accumulating on solid objects – like my car!

At 1am – I have little to no traffic on the road to contend with, and my drive home is pretty smooth and easy. 

“Set it and forget it” (Cruise control)

Not so much last night.  By the time I was half way home, the freeways were starting to fill up with slush, and the ruts in the slush started pulling my car around a bit.

I arrived home, cleaned up and went to bed around 2:15am.


Lookin' out my front windowWhen I awoke (roughly 8am) the first thing I noticed was just how much snow had accumulated! 

The girls were giddy with stories about the snow! 

They were wanting to show me the trees (coated in snow), they wanted to show me which window in the house gave them the most beautiful view of the new snow, and they wanted to show me our “Mary Statue” (Mary, the mother of Jesus) looked like she had a “tall hat” on and was covered with “sheep fur”

I grabbed the camera and started taking some snapshots from the girls window (overlooking the back yard).

Back yard, from the girls window    Back yard, maple tree, from the girls window

deck railing - note the depth of the snow

 

 

 

Then I ran to the deck to get a photo of the deck ledge where you can really see how much snow we have gotten so far!

 

 

 

 

And finally, since I needed to venture out into this wintery wonderland (to shovel it off the driveway) – I took a couple of photos for comparison purposes…

Remember folks, these photos were taken less than twenty hours apart! 

Friday Afternoon    Saturday MorningFriday Afternoon    Saturday Morning Friday Afternoon    Saturday Morning

As you can see in that final photo – I did manage to get the driveway all cleaned off… 

That photo was taken at 3pm, and for the record…  IT’S STILL SNOWING!!

Nothing like starting off the season with a bang!

Second Annual Installment – Blogger Cribs

Well, looking back on the site, it would be more accurate to call this the Second “Bi-Annual” installment of Blogger Cribs.  The First Annual Installment was back in 2008. 

Since then, there has been a few changes around the house and yard, but nothing too significant. 

I took some snapshots of the house after my final “winter yard preparation”.  Just before winter here in Minnesota, we “batten down the hatches”.  Our yards are cleaned up one last time, the leaves are all removed from the lawns, and our “stuff” (benches, flower pots, planters, hoses, picnic tables, chairs, umbrellas, etc) are all picked up, tucked safely away until after the spring thaw.  Most houses and yards look “minimalistic”, and I think they look pretty darn good!   

Like I did back in 2008, I’m going to ask YOU to join me in this tradition!

No matter where you live, be it a multi-million dollar mansion, a large beautiful house, a modest and well lived in home, a town house, an apartment, a cardboard box, or that niche in the concrete under the bridge – I’d really like to see it! 

Please, join me in this year’s Second Annual Installment of Blogger Cribs!


May I present you, Casa de Father of Five!

Casa de Father of Five 1    Casa de Father of Five 2

Casa de Father of Five 3    Casa de Father of Five 4

Casa de Father of Five 5    Casa de Father of Five 6

A Long Overdue Visit

If you have spent enough time here on FOF, you have undoubtedly read a post or two about my Mémère and Pépère (Nicknames for my maternal grandparents), and how much they meant to me.

Some of the memories I have as a young lad are the couple of times Mémère and I had visited Resurrection Cemetery.  This is where they would end up being interred one day. 
Some folks may think this a little creepy, but to be honest we discovered earlier that we both enjoyed visiting cemeteries, and we both enjoyed spending time with each other – so, to now have memories of spending time with Mémère at “her” cemetery is something I actually cherish. 
Mémère frequently teased me about coming out to “visit” them after they had gone, and being the good grandson that I was, of course I promised that I would. 

Another thing my Mémère would gush on and on about was how much she looked forward to the day that I got my drivers license.  She was so eager for me to be able to come over (on my own), pick her up, and take her grocery shopping.    (She was from the generation that women did not frequently get drivers licenses – as a matter of fact, neither of my grandmothers had drivers licenses.)

Unfortunately, that day never came. 

Pépère passed away first, when I was twelve years old. 
Mémère passed away two years later when I was fourteen. 

I still miss them very much. 

One of the first things I did when I did get my drivers license was go visit my grandparents cemetery.  I figured since I could not show up and take Mémère grocery shopping (on my own), that driving out to the cemetery (on my own) and “visiting” (as I promised I would) would be the next best thing.

Over the next few years, I visited their grave on a “semi-regular” basis.  I suspect it was about once or twice a year or so.  But as time progressed, and my life got busier, my “visits” became less and less frequent. 

Last year while I was running an errand, it suddenly occurred to me that I was within minutes of Resurrection Cemetery.  Despite the horrible weather (A sleeting, snowing, cold, and windy winter storm) I stopped for a quick visit.  It was then that I realized I had not “visited” since before I was married.  It had been over 16 years since I had been to the cemetery. 

I vowed to return when the weather was better. 



This morning I was tasked with taking some family members to the Minneapolis / St. Paul International Airport.  I was also scheduled to work.  There was going to be a gap of (roughly) three hours between the two.

Since today was Veteran’s Day, and it is adjacent to the airport, I decided that even thought I do not know anyone buried there personally, that it would be a nice way to appreciate the day by stopping by the Ft. Snelling National Cemetery to honor of the veterans who have served this great nation.

After dropping off the travelers at the airport and while I was alone in the car with only my thoughts (and memories), it occurred to me that I was about equal distance from Ft. Snelling and Resurrection. 
With all due respect for our veterans, I decided to visit Resurrection instead.

A short drive later, I arrived and wound my way through the cemetery.  I was stuck behind a long and slow moving procession, but about half way through, the procession took a left, and I kept going straight ahead – leaving the group behind. 

I made my way down the winding roads, and arrived in an area of the cemetery that I immediately recognized.  These were areas that Mémère and I had wandered around in my youth.  They stood out because there is a grouping of three above ground granite mausoleums that intrigued me as a child.  I made my way past those mausoleums, and into the vicinity that my grandparents were buried.

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Immediately, I recognized the crab-apple tree that Mémère was so happy to be able to be near. (It’s the shorter more “stout” one in almost the center of the photo on the left.)   

I approached the area, and immediately found their headstone.  (Second photo down, Bottom of the photo, just right of center)

It was apparent (compared to many of the headstones around theirs) that someone had been to the cemetery in the late summer or early fall.  (I suspect it may have been my mom.)

11-11-10_1209The gravesite did need some minor attention – there was some overgrown grass and weeds, and a wind chime that was hanging in the tree was twisted and knotted up.  (I can not confirm this wind chime belonged to our family, but is something my mom does (leaving wind chimes in the tree) – so I suspected it was.)

I pulled the grass and weeds from around the headstone, and cleaned off the debris that had gotten into the etchings.  I pulled the grass and weeds from around the in-ground vase, and did my best to repair some moderate damaged (caused by age) to the unit (which will need some significant attention next year.)
 
By the time I was done, it was looking quite nice.


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I was fully aware of their peaceful and calming presence!
A little video of the area, and just how peaceful a place it is..  (Not the highest quality, but you’ll get the idea)


While I was cleaning, I stumbled across two out of four larger aluminum tubes that I suspect were used for an older (and much larger) wind chime.  I set them aside - That was until I later found the frame, and the “clapper” (the part that swings in the wind and hits the chimes).  I decided I was going to take on “rehabbing” that wind chime as a little project for this winter.  This way, I’ll have a reason to return this spring!! 

While I was there, another opportunity presented itself to me…  Stay tuned for a post titled “Veteran’s Day – 2010

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