Saturday, December 16

Official 2006 Holiday Card

Happy Holidays! Joyful Solstice! Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! Best Wishes! Joyeux Noël! Feliz Navidad! Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan! Glædelig Jul (I've borrowed some new greetings from my friend Richard's emails - for all I know he got them from a grocery sack. I hope they actually mean good wishes)! Gajan Kristnaskon! Hyvaa Joulua! Buorrit Juovllat! Gledileg Jol! Nodlaig Mhaith Chugnat! Buone Feste Natalizie! Natale Hilare et Annum Faustum! Pozdrevlyayu s Prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom! God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt! År Ruumsaid Juulup! Season's Greetings! Peace!

2006 has been a great year for our family. Along the way we've made a number of discoveries that we thought we would share in this Second Annual Official Holiday Blog-Card.

At a lovely summer wedding we discovered that Peter and Kate are a couple of dancing fools. Disco fever has never died out completely in Kate. The prevailing comment at the wedding was that Peter must be adopted, because no child of Stan's could possibly display that much poetry of motion on a dance floor.

Kate and Madeline discovered that $24 no longer buys the island of Manhattan as they travelled to New York City for Madeline's spring break from the UW. They loved the theater, the museums, the people watching and the time together.

In April, Peter, Kate and Stan discovered the wonders of Zion National Park and the American Southwest. We spent the better part of a week hiking Zion's various trails. Peter was the only one of us to complete Angel's Landing, but all three of us had a wonderful and thought provoking time exploring this marvelous country. We also stopped in Las Vegas on Peter's 18th birthday on our way back. There were no stories that particularly need to stay in Vegas, but we did enjoy the Blue Man Group. It was great fun to spend a week together.

After reading a paper she wrote on her educational philosophy, Stan and Kate discovered that Madeline has a thoughtful and refined philosophy of education which will no doubt prove highly valuable to her when she embarks on her teaching career. Unfortunately, her professor was initially less impressed. Madeline discovered that even Professors of Education can be arbitrary and capricious on a bad day. Another valuable lesson - especially since everything turned out fine.

Peter has discovered the joys of college, and an academic environment that involves less busy work and more interesting learning. The University of Iowa seems to suit him very well, both socially and academically. In a perfect world, it would be nice to have both Madeline and Peter about 2 hours away. Instead it's over a four hour trip to Iowa City or Madison. But the world is smaller than it was when we were in college. With cell phones and iChat, Kate and Stan can feel more connected than we otherwise would. And Stan has discovered that providing requested help on papers and other projects is so much more enjoyable than the daily "is your homework done?" hectoring.

At Thanksgiving we rediscovered that 24 pounds of turkey is more than enough for a family of four. Yes there were leftovers. It was great to have both kids home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Madeline, Kate and Stan even attempted the dreaded Friday After Thanksgiving 6 a.m. shopping extravaganza. Please remind Stan that he discovered that he never again wants to experience the joy of this tribute to consumerism again.

One of the year's least pleasant discoveries occurred on a trip to the cottage in late August. We discovered mold in the master bedroom. Fortunately, it hadn't spread to the rest of the cabin. The room has now been gutted, setting up a major renovation project for Stan in 2007. A new metal roof has been placed on the cabin, the sauna and the screen house, ensuring that the roof problems won't reoccur.

As empty nesters, Kate and Stan were told they would have more free time, less responsibility. We have discovered that Greta takes more attention than Peter ever did (which we should have already known). Greta has yet to meet a door she doesn't want to be on the other side of. As a 10 year old dog, Greta is part puppy and part old woman. Still, she does have personality.

Even if life isn't filled with idle moments, the transition to the empty nest has a few benefits. Stan has less trouble finding the remote controls (or at least has no one but himself to blame if he can't locate them). And perhaps the house stays a bit better organized. Kate and Stan have taken up yoga in their spare time. It's fun, but not easy. Our "tree poses" are more reminiscent of the jack pines at the cabin teetering in the wind than a giant oak tree, that's for sure.

By Stan's count, we have "discovered" about 93 times this year that Kate is a great chef. It is a joy to be on the receiving end of Kate's creative approach to food. In an effort to keep the tonnage down, Stan has continued to bike to work year round. Stop and visit any time. You can count on pleasant company and great food.

It can hardly be called a discovery, but 2006 has reaffirmed what we've known for a very long time -

that family . . .

and friends. . .

are the most important thing. Have a great holiday and a wonderful 2007. There's always room at 2134 Carroll. Stop and see us!


Peter, Stan, Madeline, & Kate

This Space Reserved

Here's the unretouched version of the photo of Madeline:

The Official Holiday Card will be coming soon and demands top billing. I need space in case I have other things to write in the next couple of weeks.

December 24th - Strange Convergences

It's odd how things sometimes converge. This morning I finished The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, a memoir by Bill Bryson. I think it would be a great read for anyone, but particularly for me. For Bill Bryson grew up in Des Moines, Iowa at the same time that I was growing up in Newton, Iowa. So much of his childhood and much of mine took place in the same places. Bishop's Cafeteria. The big theaters of Des Moines. The kiddie corral at Dahl's. He lived in the big city of Des Moines - my family went there often. His reflections on those times really resonated with me and took me vividly back to my childhood. He ends the book talking about how great it would be if we had somehow kept the the things that were great about those times (but added Dolby sound). He finishes the book with these sentences, "What a wonderful world that would be. What a wonderful world it was. We won't see its like again, I'm afraid."

And of course Christmas in many ways does the same thing. As a person in middle age with grown children, Christmas is both a time when I reflect on blessings and remember holidays past. Our holiday celebrations are great. Wonderful quiet times with family and friends. Still, they lack the wonder of racing down the stairs to see what Santa has brought and running right by the slot car set onto the porch. The sinking feeling of being somewhat stiffed by Santa was short-lived, followed soon by the joys of hot slot car racing.

Or the joys of watching your own children have similar experiences.

Then, as I was walking Greta on this pretty, sunny day and listening to a shuffle of songs on my iPod, I heard a James Taylor song ("Letter in the Mail") that I swear I have never listened to before, about the passing of things. About change. About good things lost that aren't coming back (at least that was what it was about for me today).

Part of me laments the loss of those times. Part of me feels that my generation hasn't made this a better world - that life was somehow better in those simpler times. I'll bet at times my dad felt the same way. And his dad.

While I am sure life was different in many ways, maybe it's just an idle use of time to worry about the "better/worse" aspect of it. Christmas in 1956 was pretty cool. So is Christmas in 2006.

Thursday, November 30


I guess I'm in a writing slump. I haven't posted much on the blog the last couple of months. And it's almost time for the second annual Official Holiday Card to be posted. Actually, I've "written" several entries over the last couple of months while riding my bike to and from work.

  • One about a disagreement my friend Charlie and I had over the public sharing of information - which would have involved the Associated Press, the way that our different "lenses" affect what we hear and who we believe, a long running argument fueled by bourbon and relief, and probably at least some joking reference to Charlie's inability to conduct even the most rudimentary risk/reward analysis.

  • One about determinism, and my visceral reaction to the assertion that "things are destined by the stars", "it was God's will", "it was meant to be" and other similar statements. But written in a way that acknowledged the mystical, the ununderstood and ununderstandable. Maybe even an acknowledgment that even in the wildly unlikely event that it is all written in the stars, it's much more satisfying to live as if it isn't. I probably would have found a way to work in one of my favorite bumper stickers - which reads "What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it's all about?"

  • One about following from the front - ingeniously tying together my dog Greta's technique of always being in front of me on our walks (though in fact she is following me) and most American politicians. As the election season went by I was more and more willing to vote for politicians who were more likely to make decisions based upon principles rather than polls. Even if I didn't completely agree with the principles.

But I didn't actually write any of them. Much of my computer time was spent categorizing photos - a big job that I enjoyed and which is now complete. I guess I can't really blame the cold I've had for the last 10 days (though I've enjoyed blaming things on that lately). Probably, it just wasn't meant to be.

Saturday, October 14

A Roof Over Our Head

A quiet weekend at the cabin. Walks and saunas. And looking at the new metal roof – half way installed on a cold and windy week last week. I think it will be really nice. And it will mean that I can begin to put our bedroom back together come spring. Sunday morning I’ll be turning off the water for the season.

Much less excitement than last weekend. Kate and I were quietly sitting on our deck with our friends Kay and Reechow a week ago. All at once – CRACK! – a large branch split above our head and headed toward the deck, missing Kay and me by a mere 3 feet. I don’t suppose once could call it a near death experience. But it was exciting.

And a challenge to cut into pieces last Sunday. But ultimately no more harm than a sore back this week. I spent a while trying to figure out if I was unlucky (the tree branch fell, after all, and it fell when we were sitting under it) or lucky (it missed us, after all). Probably a little of both in this case. On the whole, mostly lucky.

It was cool and windy on Saturday late afternoon for my last sauna of the year. I usually go in and out of the sauna three times, with a dive in the lake or, this time of the year, a quick outdoor shower between. Before my final trip to the sauna I was taking a few extra seconds to sit in the sun on the deck protected from the wind enjoying the clear blue sky and the residual heat from two trips into the sauna, when a bald eagle began circling overhead. He continued circling for what seemed to me to be five minutes. Long enough for me to conclude (perhaps erroneously, I must admit) that he or she had only recently gotten a white head and tail. Some of his body feathers still had the look of an immature bald eagle. A wonderful end of the season goodbye – though the eagle, like us, will head south soon. So hopefully just a “so long.” I had cooled pretty completely by the time I made it back to the sauna. A great moment. Like I said, on the whole, mostly lucky.

Saturday, September 30

Did Nothing and Rested Afterwards

Kate and I had a great day together yesterday. In some ways sort of a “did nothing and rested afterwards” day. We were up early to do the final “dealer prep” for refinishing of our kitchen floor. That didn’t take long, and the man who was doing the job was delayed sufficiently to allow me to completely read the sports page and fool around migrating things to a new iMac I bought this week. When he did arrive with what at least in retrospect was perfect timing for me, we piled in the Volvo with Greta and headed north towards the cabin. But rather than our usual “how fast can we get there” drive, we stopped in Hinckley for breakfast, taking our time over cakes and eggs in downtown Hinckley. We’ve driven to our cabin via Hinckley for over 17 years. And yet if we’ve ever been downtown, it hasn’t been more than once. Were we missing something great all these years? Not really. Still, it just felt great to be in no hurry to get anywhere.

There was a light rain falling as we continued, but it seemed to only intensify the fall colors. Kate almost always drives, and this time was no exception. Normally I read, glancing up each of the three times we cross the St. Croix River. This time the colors drew me away from the book. The iPod was picking great songs as it shuffled away. Kate is famous for always turning down the volume on the stereo. But I’m sure I saw her turn up the volume (I guess that’s my “Grand Casino story” – since she did it as we drove by the Grand Casino).

We took turns pointing out pretty groups of trees to one another all the way to the cabin. When we arrived Shawn (the man in charge of putting a new roof on the cabin) was positioning a dumpster south of the cabin. We had a nice conversation with him as we gradually settled in at the cabin. Kate started a fire as I unlocked things and moved bags in. The cabin warmed gradually, and before long we were sitting around the stove reading and warming on a cool and rainy day. I started The Kite Runner and Kate was finishing up The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. By late afternoon the rain stopped and we were able to go for a walk near the source of the St. Croix, enjoying the fall colors and just strolling in the woods (though Greta wasn’t strolling – the first day at the cabin she is a sprinter. Her age usually catches up with her later in the weekend).

Then, it a rare and odd move, we grilled a steak and had it on the table by 6:30! I pointed out to Kate that I wasn’t quite sure how to grill a steak in the daylight. But we had decided we wanted to watch last night’s episode of Gray’s Anatomy (excuse me, Grey's Anatomy), which was being rerun on ABC at 7. Which we did. In keeping with the spirit of the day, we drank a bottle of Girard wine in the “slow mode” – being careful to enjoy each sip. When the next TV show came on, we watched a few minutes and then in a moment of inspiration Kate said, “This isn’t really very good.” So we turned off the television and returned to our books.

Soon enough Kate bundled up for the walk down to the cool screen house, our bedroom having fallen victim to the roof problem. I finished my chapter and followed.

Nothing dramatic. But a great day.

Monday, September 18

A Rite of Fall

I may have found something that in an odd way I agree with the Catholic Church about - the value of ritual. One of the annual rites or rituals in my life is the September canoe trip to the Boundary Waters which I take with Harry. I suppose in an odd way this annual trip performs a function for me which is not unlike the function of communion or Easter for a practicing Christian. For this trip has an importance in my life that goes beyond that of the purely secular.

It's a reconnection with nature and a marker that I have been lucky enough to make "one more lap around the sun."

It's my fishing "Super Bowl" - even though in most years it is the only time I fish at all. Harry and I each make it our goal to catch the most impressive fish (all things considered). By the way, I was the lucky one who happened to snag the most impressive fish this year - a true fighter we named "Hector Bassquez." The only skill I can claim is my clever (and totally random) choice of a lovely jointed orange Rapala which I named The Orange Order as I put it in the water when we began to canoe through West Pike. After that I was just reeling them in (for about 10 minutes, until the magic stopped).

It's a chance to laugh and observe the world and work with Harry to create theme jokes of the weekend, essentially alone in our own little universe. To sit and stare at the fire with a beverage and solve the problems of the world.

In some ways and at some times it can be strange to be away from the day to day of the world. Of course, that was particularly true in September, 2001, when we went to the woods just a few days after the events of 9/11. But it was even true this year. The sunsets were odd, particularly on Thursday. The sun became a large orange ball in the sky earlier than normal. And the clouds didn't explode in color in the way that seemed normal. Harry and I concluded that there were fires in the area. But we didn't know we were right until we returned home to read the newspaper articles about fires about 10 miles away on the Gunflint Trail.

And of course it's a great chance to consider how lucky I am. And not just at catching fish.

Wednesday, August 30

End of an Institution

I eat one chili dog a year. Or I guess I should say I ate one chili dog a year. At the Minnesota State Fair. At a place called “Jim and Jo’s”. A chili dog with onions, some sort of ersatz cheeselike stuff and liberal amounts of Tabasco sauce. You can bet that I told the person creating my Jim and Jo Chili Dog that it was my one chili dog of the year, so make it a good one. But they would have anyway. Most years, my annual chili dog was the last thing I ate before heading home from the fair. Madeline and Peter often ate one with me. Sometimes shared one, though it was one fair food item that I was reluctant to share.

My buddy Richard, who joined me for a Jim and Jo’s chili dog one year, was so moved by the experience that he wrote a poem about it, which I reprint with permission:

jim & jo’s

since 1946
jim & jo’s have proudly sold their chili dogs
at the minnesota state fair

from a trailer hard by the midway.
limeade is the only drink served – and is
“made with spring water”.

while the midway has lost its burlesque (lap dancing having
gone mainstream), its freak show, and even its fat lady –
jim and jo’s have soldiered on
in a crusade against… bad chili dogs.

and this may be more noble than it sounds.

foot longs with everything: chili, cheese, onions.
you may add ketchup and mustard
if you must
but jim & jo won’t. in the same way a
barkeep in London refused me a “black and tan”
years ago – “take your bleedin’ tourist ass else-a-where’s.”

the only condiment proudly offered is Tabasco;
the one and only god worshiped here at jim & jo’s.
the one god that has not abandoned us -
that still revels in pain as pleasure,
that knows Eve
knew not
and doesn’t care.

Oh Tabasco! you bastard, you
sideshow shill, you huckster extraordinaire,
bless this frank.

then Jim, grinning through a cloud of foul cigar smoke,
surveys his supplicants,
and, wiping his greasy hands on his pants,
counts all the chili stains

as tithes.

- richard russeth

Was a Jim and Jo’s chili dog great food? I don’t suppose you can really say that. It was a great chili dog – because at least to me a chili dog is more about the experience than the food. Kate, for whom food quality is paramount, devours a Donna’s Pork Rib Sandwich at the fair but for the most part leaves the chili dogs alone. She’s right that a Donna’s sandwich would be good food anywhere, even at a restaurant with a tablecloth. A Jim and Jo’s chili dog would be out of place. It’s all context and situation with a chili dog. Until this year, the Donna’s sandwich was my alpha food – beginning the state fair eating experience. The Jim and Jo’s was my omega food – admittedly without any Omega-3’s, at least as far as I know.

And this year, as our abbreviated fair experience was winding down and I went for my chili dog – Jim and Jo’s was gone. According to my sources, it fell victim to an administrative snafu. Both Jim and Jo have died. Their children were carrying on the stand, I’m told. And now, after 60 years, Jim and Jo’s is no more.

Change is always hard. But I usually deal with change pretty well. I believe, along with most Buddhists, in the concept of impermanence. I think I even understand it somewhat. Things do change. Inevitably. But I find it easier when the thing changing is a computer, or a style or even me. Not an institution. And Jim and Jo’s didn’t evolve. It just wasn’t there.

What wasn’t there with it – at least for me? Memories of my mom making me 3 or 4 or 5 chili dogs when I came home from work at Hy-Vee at 9 p.m. in the late ‘60’s. The fun of the years when I would spill a little chili from my Jim and Jo’s dog on my running shoes. Accidentally the first time. On purpose thereafter. Just for a laugh. Peter never joined in that tradition. He respects his shoes. Does he understand that things change, including shoes? That a chili stain can be an amelioration, not necessarily a degradation?

Will I seek out another chili dog stand at the fair to replace Jim and Jo’s? No, I won’t. It appears that my chili dog days of summer are over. I’ll shift to a turkey leg or a smoked pork chop as my Omega food at the fair. Or I’ll have another Donna’s sandwich to end the day. My state fair traditions will evolve in some way. But I will always wish that Jim and Jo’s were still there, providing me with a “link” to my past – and a little heartburn on the side.

Friday, August 25

Empty Nest

It’s been a strange last few weeks for me. I think someone wrote a book decades ago called “Passages” – and this is one for Kate and me. For we are now what is referred to as empty nesters. I helped Madeline move into a new apartment two weeks ago. That wasn’t such a change – she lived in Madison this summer, though she was home quite a bit. Or was she? She was in St. Paul, which I hope and think she still thinks of as home. But in some real ways Madison is her home too.

Then a week ago we took Peter to Iowa City as his college career began. I love both Iowa City and Peter (not in that order), and I’m excited for him to get on with what should be a great time of life. I think college will be a great experience for him, as it has been for Madeline. And as it was for me. Still, it was a strange moment when he was moved into his dorm. There is so much you want to say, and so little you can say. You want to help the right amount, while acknowledging that he really doesn’t need much help.

So Kate and I headed off down the road as empty nesters. In one sense, Peter had failed to do his job. College bound kids are supposed to foul the nest. To be so obnoxious during the summer before college that their parents can’t wait to be rid of them. Yet he has been particularly pleasant this summer. Sure, he was slow to write thank you notes for graduation gifts. But the ones he wrote were well written, and in the end they did get written. Maybe not on the schedule a 53 year old would choose, but on an appropriate schedule for an18 year old. Most nights he got home in the wee hours. But he frequently stopped by the house during the hours I was awake. And he’d sit down and watch the Twins and b.s. with me. Or go to a movie. More often than usual. Maybe that was his way, and mine, of saying something.

Anyway, it was hard to say goodbye when we left. Still, I’m looking forward to life as an empty nester. Kate and I will find lots of fun and joy and laughter. And we’ll welcome our “fledged” children back to the nest for visits and summers any time.

And speaking of fouled nests, we arrived at the cabin last night to find that what Peter had failed to do at 2134 Carroll, nature had done at Cranberry Lake. There was a huge storm here in mid-July. Blew down a couple of trees in inopportune spots. That is no problem. An opportunity to use a chain saw to create wood for the sauna. However, the wind blew the shingles off of about half of the roof of our bedroom. And every rainstorm since, including the one yesterday, has saturated the walls, ceiling and floor.

Oh the smell of mold. Still, we can shut the door to our bedroom and sleep in the “screen house.” Cause there are only two of us.

Sunday, July 30

Test Results

During the last week I've had a higher than normal interest in medical test results. My most personal and intense interest was in my routine quarterly blood tests. The results of which came in slowly, but were fine. After nearly 8 years, the blood tests still are stressful. For 11 weeks between appointments I don't worry unduly about cancer. Then the 12th week rolls around, my blood is taken, and a part of my mind is always focusing on the test results. This time the more complex (and important) tests were sent out for analysis. Resulting in 3 days of wait and worry and wonder. The folks at Minnesota Oncology are great. But that time passes slowly. And it's amazing to see and feel the physical manifestations of the stress - more tightness my back, etc. And to feel them go away when the results are normal - which they have been for many years now.

But I've also spent lots of time over the last week reading and listening to everything I can about Floyd Landis, and testosterone and epitestosterone ratios. The Tour de France is my favorite sporting event (except perhaps the NCAA basketball tourney). And this year was the best Tour ever. Lots of amazing stories. The result in question right to the end. Phonak 'giving' Perierro a 30 minute lead on the assumption that he couldn't compete in the Alps. And nearly living to regret that assumption. Landis being great on Alpe d'Huez, necrotic hip and all, and then cracking in the 16th stage the following day. And then the amazing breakaway ride on the 17th stage. I think I was most impressed with the class Floyd showed throughout. After his terrible stage he came down and was interviewed - and he did it graciously. He certainly didn't have to make an appearance. And I have to believe he would have preferred not to. I was so pleased that he won.

And then the results of the test after the 17th stage. It's hard to know for sure what to think. But after listening to interviews and reading, I'm inclined to believe Floyd is telling the truth when he says he didn't take testosterone or other performance enhancing drugs. Maybe I'm naive, but I believe him. For one thing, he seems intelligent. Too intelligent to choose to take testosterone if he was going to cheat. As I understand it, the logical use of synthetic testosterone is over a period of time - not as a one shot deal. And the results of the other tests taken during the Tour were acceptable. Then there is the WADA and UCI politics, and the guilty till proven innocent aspect of the deal - with only a limited opportunity for the cyclist to represent himself. But mostly, it's listening to Floyd himself. His comments don't sound like a fake denial. To me, his responses have been responsive and ring true. I hope I'm right.

By the way, the funniest thing I've heard on this subject came from my friend Charlie who, upon reading that beer consumption can increase your testosterone levels, said "well, that explains NASCAR."

The other sporting event I've spent lots of time with these last few weeks was the World Cup soccer tournament. I'm not a soccer fan. But the pressure and the great fans were fun. And the athletes are outstandingly talented. I guess my objection isn't exactly that there is not enough scoring. It's that the results seem entirely too random to me. The best team is only slightly more likely to win. Oddly, I really liked the German team. And really disliked the Portuguese (they seemed like tank artists to me - falling as if they were hit by sledgehammers when the replays tended to show they were barely touched). And by the time the finals rolled around I was rooting for the French.

And then there was Zidane's "header" on the Italian player. I thought it showed that he was a soccer player to the DNA level. When he got pissed at the defender, he didn't punch him - as any American kid would. He planted him with a header. Right to the solar plexus. I was interested to read a few days later that Zidane was given a 3 game penalty and the Italian defender got 2 days. I wonder what he said. Because it must have been something.

Tuesday, July 4

A Garden Tour

It's a wonderful year in the gardens at our house. Kate and I wanted to share the views (ok, here's the deal. Kate asked me to take some photos of the garden and post them on the blog. I like the gardens, and I love Kate, so here are some hopefully patriotic photos of our garden taken on this Independence Day. I realize I'm not showing a lot of independence here, so no ironic comments on that subject, please).

Here is the back garden, presided over by Solomon, a gift sculpture from our friends the Seymours.

Note the amaryllis plants which Kate "forced" to bloom a second (and third) time.

The lillies are a special favorite of mine.

And Kate is particularly fond of this "new and improved" coneflower.

Sunday, July 2

Back In The Tropics

We just returned tonight from Peter's college orientation and from another fabulous Train Party. It was good to be back in the warm tropical Minnesota climate. Apparently some local parrots and monkeys agreed with me that the tree I left in front of the house looked like a little palm tree waving in the breeze. During our absence they have taken up residence in our front yard.

It is always fun to be at the Train Party with such a great group. And this year Peter won the Golden Platter Frisbee Golf Tourney. Art and I won the Bocce Tourney. So Peter and I brought home some nice hardware.

Sunday, June 25

How I Spent My Weekend

This weekend has been the first "quiet" weekend we have had for a while. Kind of a nice weekend to zone out. A couple of times I just sat and listened to a nice quiet rainfall. But in spite of my "new age guy" personality, I am not without Y chromosomes. And as we prepared for Peter's grad party, I became trouble by the infrequency with which friends just drop by. Perhaps, I surmised, it was that our house was not sufficiently inviting from the street. So I resolved to do something about it. With my new open door policy in mind, I took my saw, my ax and the aforementioned Y chromosomes to the front yard. Here are the results.





My sense of humor simply wouldn't let me cut down the last "stem" of the cedar on the right. It just looked too much like a little palm tree waving in the breeze. Tropical climates are always inviting. So far, my plan is working like a charm. Harry came over to watch some World Cup soccer this morning. I did invite him, and like most of our friends he came in via the back door. But I'm counting it as a success story. And I've created two new spaces where Kate can utilize her tremendous gardening skills. The house will be even more inviting after she has worked her magic out there!