Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bagels and Lox

The girls were very excited that bagels and lox were on the menu for supper tonight. Watching them gobble it down made me wonder at their ability to eat pretty much anything and enjoy it--especially foods at which I know many adults would turn up their noses! Susan toasted "ET" (for "everything") bagels, which are covered with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, toasted garlic, toasted onion, and caraway seeds. Then she smeared them with cream cheese and piled on smoked salmon (the lox), sliced red onions, and capers.

This is not a meal my own mother ever would have considered serving (if she even knew that it existed as a food item!), but I'm pretty sure that, had she ever served it, my sisters and I would have cringed. Uncooked fish? Red onions? And what's a caper?! Meh, our taste buds were not accustomed to pungently savory items. (The three main spices in my childhood home? Salt, pepper, and white sugar.) Had I been used to such a variety of foods and flavors, as our girls are, I wouldn't have thought it unusual, either, I'm sure.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


The Royal Fork is the devil.

No, not really. It's just an innocent little buffet restaurant in Grand Forks, but I never leave it without an uncomfortably full tummy. It's easier to place blame on the tempting restaurant itself than on my own gluttony, so I do.

The girls get certificates for free meals at the Royal Fork with each dental checkup (why area dentists have teamed up with the Royal Fork for this promotion, I do not know), so we used their coupons today for dinner (Susan and I had to pay for ourselves, of course). The soups were delicious, the salad and toppings were fresh, and the hot food was tasty. Chicken, mashed potatoes, dressing, green beans, caramel rolls, tomato soup, herbed chicken and rice soup, chicken and wild rice soup, and on and on. I was too full for dessert (yes, unbelievable--I passed up dessert), but all the ladies had ice cream sundaes.

Thank God for the opportunity to have more than plenty and for the sense to be thankful for it. (Now I need to work on stopping with plenty rather than overindulging . . .)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


A week or so ago, I was trimming the hedges in the front of our house, and I felt a sharp prick on my arm. I looked down to see a bee/hornet/wasp/stinging kind of insect attacking my arm! We have perennials planted all around our house, so there are always swarms enjoying the flowers. Well, one got testy over my presence and let me have it -- my first sting ever, I think. I was alone at the time, so I didn't know what to do. I ran into the house, turned on the computer, and searched the Internet for the correct treatment! I don't remember what I did; it involved soapy water followed by an ice pack, I think. In any case, it became a mildly sore little red spot that disappeared in a day or two -- nothing major.

Well, yesterday I was washing windows on the house, and I was trying to get to the top of the living room picture window. We have a hedge up against the house with the flowers in front of the hedge, so it's pretty difficult to get right up next to the building. I was trying to cram the step ladder between the hedges and the window when I felt two stings simultaneously, one on each leg. Needless to say, I was at that point done washing the window! Today, one of the stings is pretty much gone, but the other one still hurts, and there's a white spot where the sting was, and the pain is spreading outward. Any suggestions, people, for what to do about it?

Yesterday, Susan and the girls and I picnicked at a park in Grand Forks and were pestered there by bees/hornets/wasps/stinging insects. Tonight we joined friends to picnic at a different Grand Forks park, and we were overtaken by a swarm of persistent stingers. I think they could smell the scent of their kin being emitted with my pheromones and were, thus, drawn to me in particular. I was completely emasculated in front of my family and our friends as I grabbed my plate and raced around the table, dodging the carnivorous pests. Meanwhile, Abigail sat completely unfazed, eating her mashed potatoes while bees/hornets/wasps/stinging insects circled her but otherwise did her no harm.

I can't say that I minded going my entire life up to this point without stings.

Four-Part Harmony

Tonight Susan and I joined one of our pastors and his wife to sing at church. Pastor Roger asked us to join him and Kathi in four-part harmony on several standard hymns, so we met a few minutes before church to run through a few of them. Then, we opened the service by singing "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," "This Is My Father's World," "Softly and Tenderly," and "Soon and Very Soon." It was great to be able to step in with another musical couple and sing accurate harmony with appropriate dynamics in a way that felt like we were listening carefully to one another and responding to one another's instincts, etc. We also sang "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" just before the sermon, and then Susan and I sang "Come Now and Eat" during communion--a spur-of-the-moment suggestion by Kathi a few minutes before the service.

It was a fun musical opportunity that reminded me of singing in the Zion Lutheran Church (McGregor, ND) choir with my parents when I was in high school. It was me and a bunch of middle-aged and elderly church members singing the four parts of the hymns from the red hymnal. It was fun and felt traditional, and I recalled it when singing tonight. I hope we get a chance to do it again sometime.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Cheap Date

Yep, that's what I had this past weekend in Dickinson, North Dakota. My family went there to spend the weekend with my wife's family and to "take in" the annual Roughrider Days celebration. We picked up my wife's sister in Fargo and spent Friday night in Mandan, ND with their brother, his wife, and their son. We got into Dickinson Saturday morning in time to see the parade. Many of my wife's relatives were there, too, so it was fun to visit them. We had a very relaxing Saturday and Sunday with nothing really scheduled, so we could do as we pleased. Susan's dad watched the kids while she and I did some shopping Saturday afternoon and again Saturday evening when we went to see Superman Returns. The Carmike Cinema 3 in Dickinson charges $4.50 for an adult ticket, compared to $8 per ticket in Grand Forks. So Susan and I both saw the movie for only a buck more than it would have cost one of us to see it at home! And with free babysitting (Grandpa), it was a very cheap--but fun--date.

Not so cheap was our night (Sunday) at a hotel, which we booked so that the girls could go swimming in the pool with a slide and numerous water features. It was fun, though. We headed home Monday but ate at A & W first. Abigail's chicken was late in coming to the table, so the apologetic manager gave us an entire chocolate cake! We ate it at a rest area picnic table on the way home. Again, we weren't really on a schedule, so it was a relaxing drive home with stops whenever we needed them. A very fun weekend.