Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Foxy Lego Ants on Power Wheels

Surprises are way overrated sometimes. 

My first example took place yesterday evening.  Upon arriving home with Lena, I felt a sense of relief and calm.  I unloaded the car and prepared to enjoy an evening of reading, relaxing and early bedtime.  Lena had a long day of travel as well with zero nap time, and I was happy that she would likely fall asleep easily.

This calm was quickly shattered when I walked in and glanced towards Lena's food dish.  As of late, my dog has decided that she does not want to eat all of her food at meal time.  Actually, this is more of an afternoon meal phenomenon.  I believe it is due to the fact that she expects a Dingo treat as well and cannot quite understand that the granting of said treat only occurs when she has finished her regular food.  Basically, she will take a few bites before coming to me to gaze imploringly into my eyes.

Normally, I can stubbornly get her to finish her food.  It takes a while.  Last week when we were getting ready to leave, I noticed that she hadn't finished her meal.  Normally I would have taken the time to get her to do so, but we were in a hurry.  It didn't occur to me that leaving it out would be a problem.  Boy was I wrong.

Over the course of the weekend, a colony of ants had discovered Lena's leftover food and was making a feast of it.  I should probably clarify a bit as it may sound like there were hundreds of tiny critters covering her dish.  This was not the case.  But there were enough to be distinctly noticeable.  I immediately emptied the bowl into the garbage, washed it thoroughly and began a frantic vacuum session. 

I believe I was somewhat successful, but I still have to stop and pick up some trap/bait kits today to finish the job.  Yuck.  Lesson learned:  when Lena does not finish her food, it gets put away. 

My second surprise came from the ongoing coyote watch fiasco.  After doing some research, I found the name and telephone number for the Edina Police Department Animal Control Officer.  My mother called him to discuss the urban coyote infestation (of one) only to discover that he had recently been to our neighborhood on a similar report and based on a homeowner photograph believes that it is not a coyote but is in fact a fox.  This does change my overall fear level, but I am still not 100% convinced.

OK, so that is it for the surprises.  At least for the moment.

I had an interesting thought this weekend.  I know, you are all shocked that I had any thought at all, ha ha ha, but seriously.  My mom was showing me a YouTube clip of this little girl singing the song "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros on the Ellen show.  At the end of her performance, Ellen wheels out a pink Barbie Power Wheels Escalade for the kid.  Sweet, right?

The episode took me back to some powerful childhood memories.  No, I never had a Power Wheels and more importantly neither did my brother, Michael.  He was the one who always dreamt of getting one but never did.  I was not as vociferous in my interest, but I do remember quite vividly that I honestly felt that if I could just get my hands on one of those fine pieces of machinery that I would have total freedom.  I could go where I wanted when I wanted and no one could stop me. 

Technically speaking, my first bicycle offered similar benefits, but for some reason the idea of taking off in something that looked more like a car made it more legitimate.

As a result of well-targeted ad campaigns, I often found myself in "need" of certain new toys.  Examples include:  Barbie and the Rockers (my friends had them - I never did), She-Ra's castle, a Barbie Dream House complete with elevator, and Legos.  You could not believe the number of awesome cool Lego kits I wanted to buy, build, tear down and build again.  I reckoned that when I grew up and made my own money, I would be able to buy all of these items that were out of my reach financially as a child. 

Now, I am an adult.  I make money.  I have the earning potential to possess these things.  Yet I have bought none of them.  Why?  Because they are for children and I am not a child.  I doubt I could call up any of my friends and invite them over to play Barbies without them seriously questioning my mental stability. 

Truthfully, I can rationalize away a lot of my toy-free purchases using the above argument.  The only hang-up for me is Legos.  I still walk past the displays with a twinge of excitement and have even picked up a few, just to look.  One of these days I am going to give in and get one.  It won't be a small one either - it has to be one worthy of adult brainpower.  Well, at least for ages 12 and up.  Hopefully this will not start a snowball effect leading to a "Lego Room" in my house which leads to an intervention which leads to me making a massive donation to a children's hospital.

Although the donation aspect is pretty nice of me, if you really think about it.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Complaining about summer before it arrives (technically)

After a day in the country, I am exhausted.  Well, technically it was not really a whole day if you want to be specific.  We didn't hit the road until about 10 thanks to the female sector of the family and our insatiable need for coffee.  Let's just say that by most measures, the majority of my daylight hours were consumed with a family trip out to dear old Brooten.  Again, technically we did not go into Brooten proper.  We were out at Big Grove Lutheran, the old family farm and then to the Red Onion drive-in in Belgrade.  Hm.

Anyway.  When we left Edina this morning the weather was not too promising.  Before we even got onto the freeway we had gone from light drizzle to hail.  However, once we got going, the precipitation let up and over the course of the next two hours, the car's temperature gauge moved from 63 to 80 degrees.  To be clear, I would have been perfectly satisfied with a final temperature of 70-75.

Two hours in the car really isn't that bad in most situations.  Two hours in the car with three dogs is a different experience.  Thankfully we all made it in one piece with no puppy vomiting.

Our first stop was the church.  After visiting the graves of our loved ones and placing a large tub of daisies by my brother's headstone, we pushed our way through the wind to enjoy some traditional Lutheran church basement luncheon food.  We encountered many relatives and spoke to nearly all of them.

After the church, we went out to the farmstead to check out the potential water damage.  I won't go into detail, but it was a bit depressing.  Normally when my parents go out to the farm, they expect to get work done.  Normally my parents arrange to have me stay back home with all the dogs when they do this.  As I was with for this outing, I became the de facto dog minder.

First of all, minding the dogs is not a problem.  Sure, they have to be leashed the entire time we are out there.  Sure, I have to be careful not to let them eat or roll in anything suspicious or manure-like.  But really, they don't require entertainment and conversation, so it's not that bad.

Keeping this in mind, I must add that although it was quite windy and about 80-85 degrees, there was a great deal of humidity in the air as well.  This rendered the duty of standing with three retractable leashes attached to three constantly moving canines a bit less pleasant.  People, it was HOT.  There was nowhere to go to cool down and my parents were in the house with the keys to the only possible source of air conditioning:  the car.

After what felt like hours but was only probably 20 minutes, my parents emerged and we readied our exit.  We had made contact with my industrious 13 year-old cousin Ben who was driving the tractor back and forth to his father in the field.  Oh, and the trailer attached to the tractor was loaded with manure.  Oh, and he was loading this trailer himself with the skidloader.  While constantly minding his new lab puppy, Rudy.  Did I mention that the kid is industrious?  Way tougher than me for sure.

Once we got back into air conditioning, no one was quite willing to leave it.  We ate our Red Onion food in the car and got on our way home.  Now we are back and I am packing up to take my pup back up home with me for the night.

I should also mention that our neighbor called my mother this morning to tell her that the coyote was in our front yard.  I think that the time for action may be upon us.  Who does one call for this?  The police?  Animal control?  Time for Google, methinks.

I shall now endeavor to drive home and hope that Memorial Day weekend traffic going OUT of the metro is not bad.  I am pretty sure that I did not leave the air conditioning on at my house, so I am also hoping that I do not arrive home to humid and jungle-like conditions.  Ah, summer in Minnesota!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Safety Concerns

Here I am, posting on a weekend.  A three-day weekend to be more specific!  Aside from the less than stellar weather we have been having around here, it has been a good time so far with one exception.

Yesterday, I arose at a later hour as is my custom on weekends when I have no reason to awaken early.  The house was empty which led me to conclude that my parents had taken the dogs for a walk.  Fine by me.  I went into the kitchen which overlooks the living room which overlooks the front yard and street.  As I gazed unfocused at the view from the window, I noticed a small anomaly.

There it was, the neighborhood coyote, standing in the street straight out in front of our house.  At first I thought it was a dog, but it was unleashed with no human in sight.  When I examined the profile of the creature, I realized pretty quickly that it matched a coyote description perfectly.

To get a closer look, I stepped out onto the front steps of the house (in my full pajama regalia) and stared at it (I don't know if it is a boy or girl).  As I watched, it jogged up into the relatively wooded yard of our neighbors across the street.  A minute later, it emerged on the other side of the yard, crossed the street and went into our next door neighbor's yard.  It then proceeded to lay down next to some shrubbery and scratch itself.

I cannot say that I was in full panic mode at this point, but I was concerned.  I called my father to warn him to keep an eye out when they returned with our dogs to the vicinity and then took a picture on my phone.

Later that day, my dad ran into one of the neighbors and mentioned it to her.  She remarked that she had noticed that the rabbit population had seemed much lower this year and that having a predator was likely helping that situation.  I'm not sure that I agree with this being a good thing.  I would far rather have the plant life of the neighborhood be in jeopardy than the pet population.

On a happier note, yesterday I got a new bike!  It was part of the amazing car deal I experienced last weekend.  If you bought a new car, you got a new bike.  There was a specific bike associated with the deal, but if you didn't want that you could exchange the coupon for a gift card and get whatever you wanted from the bike shop.  I chose to do this.  Not because Trek mountain bikes aren't awesome, but because the Electra Townie bike was so much more my style.

So far, I have only taken in out around the neighborhood, but when I venture out further I will keep you posted if I have any more adventures like those of my youth as outlined here.  I am pretty sure that there are no bike cops in these parts judging from the fact that most of the biking population does not seem to think that basic traffic signs and rules apply to them.  But that is a whole other rant and I am just not in the mood for that right now.

As tomorrow will be a travel day for me, I will likely not post again until the weekend is over.  I hope that everyone has safe travels and fun times.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Buzzing Along

There are so many things that I want to mention right now, but I am pretty sure that I am going to forget half of them by the time I actually start listing them.  Bear with me, please. 

First of all, it is really a beautiful day.  I actually got to spend a little time experiencing it, even if it was mostly in my car.  Unfortunately this was due to the fact that I was attending a funeral for the uncle of one of my friends (and two of my followers).  It was a lovely service and there were some great memories shared.  I tend to get a little weepy, especially when siblings share their childhood memories, but it really is the best way to remember and begin to heal.

Aside from lovely sunshine, I should also tell you that I am on a caffeine high due to a latte this morning and a full bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper at lunchtime.  Why?  Apparently my eyes are getting old.  Last night, I suddenly realized that I need to get myself moving if I want to be anywhere near finished with the cross-stitch project I need to finish before the birth of my friend's baby in July.

I will now pause for those of you who are completely shocked to hear that I have such an old-lady skill as cross-stitching.  Rest assured that there is a story behind it.  Actually it is simple.  Maybe I've mentioned it before in this blog, but basically, when I was born, my aunt made me a birth announcement cross-stitch sampler.  My mom thought it was so cool that when her best friend had a baby five months later, she made her the same sampler.

Fast forward 31 years and me and the daughter of my mom's best friend are now best friends in our own right.  Now she (my friend) is having her first child - a girl.  Being the sentimental historian that I am, I thought that it would be "neat" to continue the tradition.  Oh, and to make it more challenging, we no longer have the pattern, so I am using my original sampler as a guide.  Believe me, it is not as simple as it sounds. 

Needless to say, my eyes are not what they once were and I found myself dropping off to sleep at 9:30 last night from pure exhaustion.  Ugh.

My next point of "excitement" came from a text I received from my father this morning.  On his normal morning (pre 6 a.m.) constitutional, he snapped a photo of a COYOTE by the driveway of the house two down from theirs.  In EDINA.  That's right, EveryDayINeedAttention EDINA.  Close to major freeways, shopping malls and tons of traffic. 

Now, I realize that I personally have nothing to fear from these small creatures.  At least I think so.  But they DO represent a threat to pets of the neighborhood, which include my parents' dogs and my dog.  I am not sure how one combats a coyote threatening to make off with a precious pup, but I am going to have to work on my ninja moves.  And carry a large stick.  Maybe the Acme company has some useful weapons.

Speaking of ninja moves, I received my final piece of alarming news today.  It could be that I spoke too soon when extolling the virtues of Minnesota being a scary bug free zone.  Read this.  Then help me look for new places to live.  Canada?  Siberia?  Alaska?  Hmmm... how about Sweden?  Norway?  I think that living above the Arctic Circle could be a deterrent to these sorts of scary critters.  I am just not sure that I can deal with encounters with spiders that could kill me or my loved ones.  Eek.

So....  that is my big caffeine-fueled news for the day.  I am so super unbelievably excited for my three-day weekend!  Going shopping, going to Brooten, maybe seeing my friends....  As long as the coyotes and spiders stay far away, it should be awesome.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Don't you think you want to be just a little more like me?

Hey y'all, check it.  I have added yet another new feature to this blog.  Just because I am also an avid blog follower myself, I decided to let you in on the inner workings of my brain and what it likes.  You should now see a list entitled "Necessities" in the right hand columnar area. 

Allow me to introduce them.

COFFEE AND ZOMBIE MOVIES.  I think that I stumbled across this one in another bloggers blogroll (which I have found to be a great way to find new readings).  This woman is a ukelele loving, cartoon-drawing genius.  Oh, and she is a Canadian.  Go figure, right?  ;)

GRILLED CHEESE SOCIAL.  So I know that the whole "foodie" blog is a bit overplayed, but just let me have this one, OK?  This is written by a gal living in NYC who has a fondness for unique cheese and the sandwich possibilities that they unleash.  As a fellow fromage fiend with nowhere near the amount of available options as this author, I love to look.  Mmmmm....

HARK, A VAGRANT!  This is a purely comic blog.  Wait, she does add short commentary beneath the comic posts, so maybe that is oversimplification.  I feel that this young female comic artist is a kindred spirit with her random assortment of historical figures placed in new and exciting situations.  I especially love her take on Nancy Drew.  Oh, she is also Canadian.  Hm.

HYPERBOLE AND A HALF.  This one is famous, yo.  Allie Brosh is hugely popular.  This is a detail that can be gleaned not only by checking out her follower statistics, but by the fact that this gal is making a book.  Oh, and she has been interviewed in a crap ton of venues.  Her drawings may appear childish, but spend some time with them and you will start to appreciate the complexity.  Keep in mind that she makes them all using the trackpad on her Macbook.

NO ORDINARY ROLLERCOASTER.  Another Canadian, but this one is a dude.  I sincerely wish that he didn't live all the way in Halifax, Nova Scotia, because I would seriously consider stalking him and forcing him to be my friend.

SIMPLY INSPIRED.  I know this gal for reals, you guys.  She is married to one of my childhood pals and she can do absolutely everything.  I am not kidding.  She is not only extremely well educated and intelligent, she can bake and create beautiful edibles, take breath-taking photographs and still has time to be a loving wife and mother to her husband and 3 year old son.  Someday when she is famous I will be able to say that I knew it all along.

STEAM ME UP, KID.  I am not sure how to explain this one.  This Becky gal makes me laugh, cringe, cry and laugh again.  I would love to get a glimpse of what goes on her brain, but I am a tiny bit afraid of what I would find.  The gal has a way with words... and Photoshop.  Not for the kiddies, though.

TEAM LUNDGREN TIMES.  Yet another gal that I have met in real life.  Sarah is a former college classmate who married another college classmate.  She is a Texas gal, but she married a Minnesota boy and now they live here with their four children who are all 5 and under.  You can imagine the hilarity that ensues in such a household, but she takes it all with such patience and love.  We are at total opposite ends of the life plan spectrum, but her kids are pretty blessed to have her.

THE OATMEAL.  This one is hard to explain.  It is essentially a guy named Matt who calls himself "The Oatmeal" and creates web comics, blog entries, posters, guides and has now made a book.  He is also pretty famous and has been interviewed quite a bit.  Clever, snarky and sometimes a bit angry, his comics are beautiful in a way that mine could never be.

THREE LITTLE PEPPERS.  Yet another former college acquaintance writing about her family.  You might be questioning me a bit in my fascination with this, but Lucy has a knack for capturing the hilarious and oddball side of motherhood.  She is another Southern transplant who married a MN boy - she is from Alabama.  She brings a sweet yet sassy Southern zing to her writing style and the madcap shenanigans that her children create are priceless.  Oh to be a fly on the wall for some of their adventures!

So that is all.  It's a pretty broad mix from the "wholesome" family stuff to the kind of things only an adult would understand.  Not porn, just not for the kiddies.  Got it?  If you get a chance, check them out.  You may not like ALL of them, but if I can make you a new follower of at least one, my work here is done.  Amen.

Vehicular Ennui

Here is a harsh truth (for me):  this is my last week of break before school is IN for summer.  I am attempting to enjoy as much of it as I can for I have seen the syllabus and it is FULL of assignments.  Boo-urns.  I don't know what made me expect that this instructor would be like my last summer professor and "go easy" on us because it is, after all, summer. 

On the positive side, there WILL be field trips.  Four, to be exact.  I am super stoked to visit the MN Legislative Library.  Don't judge - it is way cooler than anything YOU will see this summer.  Am I right? 

Last night I went to drop off the title to my "old" car at the dealership and to pick up my certificate for my new BIKE.  I think that I shall make my mother take me over to get it this weekend.  Don't be mad, I'm not trying to be mean, it's just that my mother's car is the only one big enough to handle a bike inside.  That is, until my father trades in his sedan for the same car as mine. 

That's right, you heard me.  My family is not known for accepting a wide variety of cars.  Case in point:  at one time we had three Camry's (of varying years) in our household.  I kid you not.

So now you're thinking, "WOW!  Megan's family sure is a wild and crazy bunch!" 

Perhaps it is the fact that I am on break mindset, but I have started to experience a bit of wanderlust.  Technically, it has been over a year since my last major vacation (to Italy) and I have no plans to take another major trip in the near future.  Heck, I won't even be going up to Ely with the girls this year due to the impending arrival of young baby "Brickette."

This means that my major vacation will mainly consist of the Hallinglag in Fargo and Bonanza Valley Days in Brooten.  I will certainly have my fill of old people mingling to last me for a while.

Shoot.  I just realized that I have been "working" on this entry for three days.  That is probably not something I should admit to given the length and quality of the entry, but I guess I will let you be the judge.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Saturday Surprise!

How was my weekend?  Well, I have to say it was a little out of the ordinary.  Initially I had thought that it would be rather simple and therefore scheduled some routine maintenance in the form of getting my dog's nails trimmed at the groomers and getting my car's oil changed at the dealership.

The trip to the groomers was uneventful, except for the part where this fruit delivery truck decided that he was going to STOP in the alleyway behind the pet salon, thus effectively blocking me from their allotted customer parking zone.  Although, when he noticed me behind him and I explained where I was going, he did pull forward to allow me to reach my destination.

Immediately after bringing Lena back to the house, I grabbed my coffee mug and headed out for the car appointment.  I made a quick stop at Caribou on the way to visit my mother, but they were quite busy so I grabbed my latte and departed.

For once I managed to arrive at the dealership when there was no line at the service entrance.  I pulled right into the garage, handed over my keys to the cute attendant and took my latte and book with me to the seating area to wait out the hour and a half work time.

As I sat peacefully reading and sipping my drink, I found that the time seemed to move rather quickly.  No sooner had I noticed this than I was approached by two salespeople from the dealership wanting to speak to me about a potential "deal."

Believe me, at this point my antennae of suspicion were buzzing.  I had no idea what they wanted, but I was pretty sure I was going to have to do some fancy talking to convince them that I wasn't interested.  As they started their pitch, I have to admit that I laughed out loud a few times.  Perhaps this was not expected, but they seemed to take it in stride.

In essence, the deal was that they were looking to get trade-ins on vehicles that were used but still fairly new.  I purchased my car almost two years ago and have had no problems with it - it is a 2010 model.  They wanted to put me in a 2011 model of the same car.  Oh, and I could do this for no change in my current monthly payment.

Does this sound too good to be true?  It sure did to me!  I have to hand it to these guys - they were persistent.  They answered all of my questions honestly and then shared the added bonus.  If I took advantage of the deal in the month of May, they would give me a free Trek bicycle valued at over $400.  They even had an example of the bike in the store.  It was pretty impressive.

So... the end of the story is that I am now driving a 2011 model of the same car I had before, in the same color at the same trim level.  There are a few things to take care of before the deal is completely finished, but in the end I am no worse off from a money standpoint than I was before.  PLUS I will have a new bike. 

Quite a different outcome from the expected oil change/car wash experience. 

On a happy note, I have a three-day weekend upcoming for Memorial Day.  This means that I get a free day off of work!  I will be spending it out in lovely Brooten, MN, visiting relatives both dead and living.  I am also hankering to have my first Red Onion meal of the season!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cliffhangers and Caffeine

What the deuce?  I had 12 viewings yesterday in the same timeframe?  While I appreciate this sudden minor burst in popularity, I have no idea where it came from. Thank you, whoever you are.

You are probably all sitting on the edge of your seats wondering if I will give you a verdict on my dating adventure.  Well, I am not one to divulge too much to such a potentially unknown audience, but I will say that it was enjoyable.  We went bowling.  In my first game, I really lit up the scoreboard with an impressive 122 points.  I am not sure what happened in the meantime, but I managed to cut my score in half for round two with a final count of 59.  Ugh.

Pizza for dinner was good as well.  We were witness to an epic catastrophe that involved an overly dramatic arm gesture by a young adolescent male that got in the way of a waitress carrying a load of soft drinks.  It was entertaining and embarrassing at the same time. 

So yes, it was a good time.  And yes, I do have plans to see this guy again, but that's all I am saying for now.  You'll just have to wait.  I did drink copious amounts of Diet Dr. Pepper, which is always lovely.  Mmmm... Diet Dr. Pepper... I could sure go for one now...  (You're welcome for the free product placement, soda company.)

Yay!  It's Friday!  Normally this signals that I will be able to catch up on sleep, but like a stupid crowned stupid I went and scheduled some routine maintenance for tomorrow morning.  First on the agenda is a nail trim appointment for Lena.  That should take about 5 minutes.  Then, I have to bring my car in for a scheduled oil change and maintenance.  That should take about two hours.  To complicate matters, my mother is working and my father will be going to the farm, which means that I had better bring along a good book.  Any suggestions?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Douchebags and Dating

Sometimes I find that when I am trying to spread my love of humor with the world, it really just sounds lame.  This was likely the case with my last entry, unless you heeded my advice and checked out those YouTube videos.  I cannot really claim credit for those, however, so I will have to settle for being the reference librarian who found them for you.  Maybe I can use that to get some free grad school credits.

Yesterday I had a bit of a caffeine-crazed mental overload.  No, I did not go crazy and throw packing peanuts everywhere or smash pieces of Starlite Mints into the carpeting. 

How did it all start?  Oh, that would be when my coworker asked a question about the movie, "National Treasure."  I believe she was wondering the name of one of the actors.  Not having seen the movie, I could not be of much assistance.  This was a bit of a surprise to her as the storyline of the movie (historical artifacts, archives, etc) should appeal to me.

At this point, I had to reveal one of my unknown and bizarre dislikes:  Nicholas Cage.  Ugh.  Even typing his name into my sacred blog space makes me want to vomit.  I could probably compose an entire entry outlining my reasons for disliking this vile and odious creature so much, but I really don't feel like filling the world up with more references to this creep.  Just know that on the grand scale of things, I equate him to a Crowned Eagle, and not in a powerful majestic way.  In a stupid mammal eating ridiculous head rock swooping stupid way.

Now that summer is ALMOST here, it is about time for my schedule to start filling up like mad.  School helps immensely in this regard, but I have only gone to school in summer once prior to this year and I have always felt like my summers are just full of constant obligations.  Don't misunderstand my tone, not all of the obligations are unwelcome, it just becomes very difficult for me to remember what I need to do on any given day.

So... tonight I am doing something unique (for me).  I am going on a quasi-date!  What justifies the "quasi" modifier?  Well, this whole thing has been set up by my dear pregnant friend and is going to be a double-date type scenario involving Briana, her husband, me and the guy.  I won't share his name because that just isn't fair, is it?  Tell you what.  I will give you a little hint.  He has been on a reality TV show.  Extra hint:  it is NOT Survivor or the Bachelor.  In fact, it isn't a show that is being actively made any more.  But still.  Interesting, right?

To pull back and be a bit more general, I find it very interesting how people react to the news that I am going on a date.  After all, it is just one date.  People do it all the time and depending on how cool I am, it is an event that could potentially be repeated.  This isn't my first date of all time either.  For goodness sakes, I am 31 years old, I have been on a few first dates in my time.  Just not recently.   Hence the crazy reactions.

For instance, one of my mother's friends (who has known me since I was two years old) is so excited she has informed my mother that she is praying about it.  While that seems a bit premature to me (as I have not actually met this guy yet), I appreciate her enthusiasm.  Although it does imply that my situation appears a bit desperate, doesn't it?  Hm. 

Last night I had someone ask me what my "checklist" of items were for what I found acceptable in a date.  I was not surprised by the question, but I found that I could not supply a ready list of traits or features as I was able to do 10 years ago. 

So much of what defines personal chemistry cannot be predicted or measured by predetermined ideals.  I mean, sure, when I was young the big things for me were height, eye color and hair color.  (I wanted tall, blue-eyed guys with brown hair.)  Later in life, I chose to be selective about personality features:  sense of humor, intelligence, kindness etc. 

As time has progressed and I have seen more of the dating scene, these requirements have become secondary to the most basic ideal that when you are evenly matched, it just feels comfortable.  I can't say that I have experienced this firsthand, but I have certainly been close to those who have had it happen to them. 

This is the attitude that I take with me into new dating endeavors.  My expectations are kept to the minimum.  Don't misread this - I am not saying that I have LOW expectations or NO expectations.  But we are all just people and we all have our quirks and personality differences.  There is no guarantee of anything more than a fun night of conversation, pizza and bowling, but I am looking forward to it.  I intend to enjoy myself and hope that everyone else does as well. 

Now that I am reading this post in the hope of coming up with an appropriate title, I realize that I have not exactly stuck to a theme.  Honestly, I am a little disturbed that I chose to put Nicholas Cage in the same entry as a discussion on dating.  Arg.  What a tool.  (Nicholas Cage, not me.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Honey Badgers and Water Chestnuts

You may have noticed that I have updated a little bit more on my blog layout.  This is due to the fact that by my mathematical calculations, I am 75% done with my graduate program.  This means that after this summer's class and the two I have in the fall semester, I am graduating.  Scary, right?

Also, due to the fact that everyone I work with has decided to inform me of their planned vacation time off all at once, I was forced to examine my calendar for the upcoming months and discovered that I too have some excitement forthcoming. 

First of all, I am now on "break."  It is a short one, to be sure, as my summer class starts on June 1.  I am going to utilize this opportunity to branch out in some areas.  I will have more to say on this later, I'm sure.

Second, this is a summer of weddings for me.  I have the first on in June and a couple more in August.  All for fun and awesome people.  Should be fun!

Third, I have the Hallinglag.  Oh yes, and then two weeks later is Bonanza Valley Days.  More on this later as well.

Additionally, I believe that July marks my one year blogoversary!  Can you believe I have actually continued to do this?  While I realize that my popularity has not exactly skyrocketed in that time, I am OK with the fact that I still fly under the radar. 

Finally, I would like to share something special with you.  My family has recently become obsessed with a set of extremely funny videos narrated by a gentleman from the Second City Network.  As I am somewhat technologically challenged at the moment, I will have to give you directions to find this on your own.

First, open a new browser window or tab. 

In the URL line, type http://www.youtube.com/ (or follow this link).

In the Search line, type "Honey Badger Randall" and select the top option from results.  Watch the video.

When you are done watching it for the fifth time, come back here.  My brother started this craze in our family, and my father now refers to everyone as a "honey badger."  It's insane.

Now for my favorite.  Remain on the YouTube page, but now search for "Water Chevrotain Randall" and watch this video.  It is the same narrator, but a different animal.  Also, the Blue Footed Booby Dance is a good one.

Randall is the same character who does the "Sassy Gay Friend" videos that are also insanely funny.  Now that I have exposed you all to the truly ridiculous humor that keeps me going, I hope you all still think I am sane and will continue to read my future musings.  If not, too bad... "you stupid crowned stupid!"

Sunday, May 15, 2011

End of Captivity

Thank goodness, today is both sunny, warm and the dogs are happy.  My parents come home today, which makes me happy as well, although tomorrow is a work day so I won't get to sleep in.  At least I won't have to share my bed with three cuddly dogs.  They sure know how to trap a girl.  Sheesh.

I am celebrating my first day of school break by hopefully doing some productive shopping.  I have three weddings this summer and would like to nail down my dress options sooner rather than be stuck with whatever I find later.  Also, I have recently begun to lament the lack of summer clothing options in my closet that are work appropriate, so I must attempt to remedy the situation.

On a final note, I have written out lots of things that I would like to say, but I think in the end it is best left simple.  It may be a bit cryptic, but if you are a fan of hockey in MN, you will know what I mean.  Rest in peace, Derek Boogaard.  Thank you for being part of the world.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Scholarly Update

Quick update:  I have finished my paper.  Yes, that's right, DAD!  Way ahead of schedule, which is especially impressive when you consider the crap I have been putting up with from the dogs all morning.  Of course, I did plan to get up at 6 a.m. anyway, but being confronted with a full-on assault to the face at that time of day is not fun.

I suppose that this would all be quite different if the weather wasn't so damp, rainy and MUDDY.  I have had to wash/bathe Thor and Lena twice already today.  The second time around, the pups got a bit feisty, resulting in the need to sequester them for a bit.  Unfortunately, these pups don't take time out quietly.  I doubt I will be able to hear properly for another 24 hours. 

On the plus side, I can now get ready, shower and pick up treats for class and traipse off to my final class.  All I have to do is give an informal summary of my paper findings and listen to the rest of my class do the same.  Then I can come home to these animals where I face another evening of dog bathing and ridiculous antics.  But at least my papers are done.  For now.

Oh, and if you were wondering, I did well last night with my other presentation.  There is something to be said about performing on low brain energy, I guess.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Down to the Wire

Howdy to you all on this fine Friday afternoon.  I am sure that many of you are counting down the seconds until your weekend officially starts, and although I am not at work today, I envy you. 

As I have previously stated, the end of the academic semester is at hand.  Literally, as in within the next 24 hours.  This past semester has been a bit different for me.  Not only did I start it out by bringing a dog into my life, but both of my classes were weekenders.  This meant that every other Friday night and Saturday afternoon, I had to spend five long hours in a classroom.

Actually, it was not that bad.  Seriously.  The ONLY negative has been that it has created a void in the motivation department for me.  Due to the fact that this is my first semester where both of my classes have final papers due, motivation would have been nice. 

To be clear, I have class tonight at 5.  I have finished the paper for this class and feel fully ready to report on it to the group.  Yay. 

On the other hand, I have another paper due tomorrow at 1:30 p.m.  This is NOT complete.  True, the subject has been chosen and researched and I am fairly certain that I can come up with a reasonable thesis.  Sadly, no actual writing has happened.

So now you're wondering why I am wasting time on this blog when I should be writing about archives and donor relations, right?  Don't worry your pretty little heads about it, my friends.  I guarantee all will be well.  Just you wait.

Anyway, my parents have departed or actually have probably already arrived in Madison to celebrate the graduation of my brother from his veterinary program.  Yes, that is correct, I now have to call my brother "Doctor."  Freaky.  Dr. Freaky?  Hm.

I order to deal with my crushing disappointment at not being able to attend the festivities, I am focusing on completing my own academic duties and caring for the three canines that are here with me.  At present they are all napping soundly in the office, especially satisfied as they have completed their afternoon meal.  Sadly they do not realize that in about ninety minutes I will be leaving them to attend the final Friday class.  Upon my return, I will be focused on finishing my prep for paper number two and POSSIBLY starting it tonight. 

My time-line for tomorrow will consist of me arising at whatever ungodly hour the pups choose to release them to their bathroom duties, feed them, give them Dingos and resume work on the paper.  It must be COMPLETE and ready by noon.  Well, at least for my sanity.  Class doesn't start until 1:30, but I think noon is a good deadline.  This is why I need to get started tonight. 

Again, don't you worry.  My dad displayed some uncharacteristic overbearing tendencies in the past 24 hours regarding my paper progress.  I had to keep reminding him that of all the papers I have written in my lifetime, these are the first time he has heard anything about it.  I believe my grade records speak for themselves, but again, there are always doubters. 

My next important task is to shower, and I had better hop to it because class is in two hours.  You will likely not hear from me again until tomorrow's class is complete.  In the meantime, imagine happy thoughts of me composing elegant prose about donor restrictions and archives that will wow and impress my professor.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

There's a twister a comin'!

Just a quick little blurb about a very interesting evening.  Yesterday was gross.  Humid, stinky, hot and just gross.  The kind of weather that makes you feel like your lungs might fill up and the air smells like cooking tar.  Ick.

Braving the heat, I took my Lena for her required walk.  While I know she appreciated the exercise, she was panting heavily the entire time and drank copious amounts of water upon our return.  As I had a lot of work to accomplish, I settled in to write at my laptop in the living room so that Lena would not feel ignored.  Not because I am just that nice, but because if she feels ignored she gets whiny very quickly.

So there I was, typing away (or imagining that I was being productive) when my phone rang.  It was my coworker, Mary, and she sounded quite frantic.  At first I was alarmed that something terrible had happened to her or one of her loved ones.  Imagine my surprise when she asked how I was doing. 

Apparently there were tornadoes in my town.  Now, I can't say that I was completely shocked by this as I had already heard the storm sirens sounding.  After this alarm, I had checked local news and radio sources and could not find any specific or terrible news, so I resumed my studious practice.  I assured Mary that I was fine and hoped that she would be able to find cover from what was apparently a major hail storm.

About 20 minutes later, my phone rang again.  This time it was my father.  He had also heard that there were tornadoes in my town and was worried about us.  I again assured him that I was fine, but as a precautionary measure, I went to the front door and looked outside.  Aside from the eerie yellowish hue of the sky and some rain, nothing seemed amiss.  Oh, and most of my neighbors appeared to be standing outside to watch the unfolding severe weather. 

My response?  I went back to work in my air conditioned house.  Lena and I went to bed at a reasonable hour and I slept quite well, thankyouverymuch.  When I awoke this morning, I took Lena outside half expecting to see debris scattered across my neighborhood.  What did I see?  Nary a twig out of place.  It was garbage day, and all of the neighborhood garbage cans were still standing with their contents enclosed. 

What is the lesson?  I don't know.  All I know is that my papers are still far from finished and I have a LOT to do in the next few days.  No amount of severe or crappy weather is going to stand in my way.  Bring it on, tornadoes!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Missing Winter

OK, so I feel a little silly doing two posts in one day, but I chalk that up to my avoidance of paper writing.  Don't worry, I have a good start and I will definitely have these two pieces of hyper-articulate crap ready to roll by the due date, but this sort of pressure always leads me to branch out in non-productive ways.

First of all, I would like to point out that I have updated my blog background.  There was nothing wrong with the old one, I just thought it needed a new look.  It is not a whole lot classier than before, but it now features a sheep in addition to a buffalo.  I felt like broadening my horizons.

My other item of comment:  I am really really pissed off right now.  All you people who whined about the long winter and cool weather, stay away from me right now.  Why?  Today we moved directly from spring into summer.  That's right, it was close to 90 degrees outside, high humidity, and what's that noise I hear?  Is that the tornado siren?  Oh, of course.  Crap.  Guess what else?  My air conditioner is on.  That's right, there is NO WAY that I am going to tough it out sleeping in this ridiculousness.  There simply are not enough fans in the world to keep my room cool enough.  Grrrrrrrr...

Rather than continue, I am now going to visit my local weather site to check out the prognosis for the evening.  I really don't want to spend my evening holed up with my dog in the bathroom to avoid being blown into Canada.

Nobody's Baby

Perhaps you have never noticed, but I do not tend to dwell on romance in my blog.  This stems from many sources, greatest of which is the fact that I simply have not experienced much of it in my life.  Oh, like many young ladies I read the Jane Austen novels (and watched the movies) and dreamed of meeting someone awesome who would love me in spite of my weird, unsettling and even ugly moments.

Although this dream has yet to come to fruition, I remain convinced that it does indeed happen for some.  Despite my cynical moments, I am not a total downer when it comes to romance.  Now let me make a careful distinction:  I am in favor of sincere manifestations of love and affection, but I cannot handle sap for sappiness' sake.

Let me give you an example.  My last "serious" boyfriend, the "Women Cannot Pass Gas" guy, had what I consider to be a very odd (and annoying) need to call me by something other than my first name.  First, he tried to call me "Baby."  I shudder even to think of it now.  A nicer person would have just let him do it, but I not only refused to respond to it, I demanded that he cease to say it.  Again, a nicer person would have perhaps have gently suggested the use of a different name.  Perhaps if I had genuinely liked Gas-Boy better, I may have taken this route.

In this case, I did not feel very generous and we ended up having to strike a deal.  I would refrain from discussing un-ladylike bodily functions in his presence if he would stop calling me by that ridiculous name.  This worked, although he did keep on trying to find a nickname that was less demeaning.  I am not sure what his problem was with my real name. 

Speaking of Gas-Boy, I have a funny story to share.  As you may not know, my mother is currently employed by a large coffee company as a barista.  It's not her dream job, by the way, but she is planning to move on and actually utilize her advanced degree in the near future. 

Anyway, up until recently, she worked in a coffee shop located in a popular local grocery chain.  In the true manner of coffee shop chains, there was inexplicably another separate coffee shop located literally just across the street.  Due to some shifts in management, my mother has now been relocated to the bigger store across the street.  The clientele there are a bit different (more celebrities) and the work space is a bit bigger.  Otherwise, she's been fine.  Except for one thing.

On one of her first days at the store, she had the dubious and surprising honor to wait on none other than Gas-Boy himself at the register.  Now, due to a random Google search conducted by me about a year ago, I stumbled across the information that Gas-Boy had taken a wife.  As I found this mildly shocking and also a bit humorous, I carelessly shared the news with my nearest and dearest.

As an additional piece of information, my mother and Gas-Boy only met once while we dated.  Unfortunately, this meeting occurred about one week after my youngest brother died and was at an out-of-town wedding for a good friend of our family.  Everyone was a bit off emotionally, and Gas-Boy, being the immature drunkard that he was, made a bit of an ass of himself.  Of course, then there was also the fact that he chose to break up with me in the most awkward and stupid way possible that may color her overall opinion of him as well. 

So, when my mother looked up and found herself looking at none other than Gas-Boy in the flesh, she briefly pondered not saying anything.  Briefly.  She then called him by his name and reintroduced herself.  I have no idea what went through his head at that moment, but it may have been fear-like. 

What should have happened next would be a bland exchange of "so how are you's."  What actually happened was that my mother said, "So I hear you got married!"  When I heard this, my mild amusement turned to mild horror.  As Gas-Boy and I had not communicated for almost three years, there was no way that she would have known that he was married unless I had actually looked for the information, thus implying that I am some sort of stalker.  I prefer to view it as follow-up research for my own sake, especially as I had NO intention of ever seeking him out or utilizing said information to my advantage.

I believe Gas-Boy responded with a slightly shocked affirmation and told her that he was indeed wed and living in the suburbs.  I also believe that Gas-Boy will NEVER set food in that particular branch of this coffee chain ever again in his life. 

With that lovely anecdote, I will leave you to think about the nature of your own relationships, past and present.  If you're happily settled, good for you.  You can look back on past boyfriend/girlfriend debacles with nostalgic humor.  Think about it a little, but be glad that you're out of the strange and terrifying game that is dating.  It really isn't as much fun as Jane Austen would lead you to believe.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pippi and the Thunder Claps

This Monday morning commenced with a bang, literally.  We had our first thunderstorm of the season.  I had been a bit anxious about this, to be honest, as I was unsure how Lena would fare.  Thankfully, she was fine.  Fortunately, we were again at my parents' house which meant that I did not have to usher Lena outside to do her bathroom duties.

Unfortunately, it did mean that I had to witness the neurotic response of Pippi, my parents' female Jack Russell.  To be fair, Pippi does not go nuts and cry or hide during thunderstorms.  She simply becomes very very restless to the point that she can't stay in one place for more than a couple of minutes.

This morning, while perusing my blogroll, I came across an entry from NPR's Bob Collins that seemed to speak directly to this mystery.  It's a good thing that I have purchased plenty of dog clothing for Pippi - I may have to put it to greater use than purely my own amusement.

On a different note, the heat is truly on for me this week.  My final class sessions of the semester are this weekend, and both classes have a final paper due.  Of course, I have both topics chosen and ample literature to utilize in my findings, but the actual act of composing is always a little stressful for me.  This does seem a bit strange given the fact that I voluntarily write for this blog on a semi-regular basis.

The other big deal for this week is that my brother is graduating from veterinary school this weekend in Madison, WI!!!!  That's right, my "little" brother is going to officially be able to put "Dr." in front of his name.  Scary and cool.  Sadly, due to previously stated fact that I have my own school issues to attend to this weekend, I will not be in attendance for his big day.  Before you give me the "Worst Sister of the Year Award," please note that he has elected to pursue an additional degree (Masters of Public Health) next year, which means that I will have a second chance to attend a graduation for him.

To complete this entry, I should add that I hope everyone who has or is a mother was able to celebrate Mother's Day in a lovely and appropriate fashion.  For me, that meant we took my mother out to eat at The Happy Gnome in St. Paul (yum) and gave her gifts of a new wheelbarrow and a book.  Oh, and I should also add that my mother had to work on Mother's Day.  I know, I know.  So unfair.  But know this:  it will never happen again.  That's right, you heard it here first, my mother does not intend to be working for the 'Bou by this time next year.  Perhaps I will have more on this later, but for now I remind you to think happy thoughts about me successfully completing another semester of grad school.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Return of the Naughty Sock Monster

I suppose the wording of the title to this entry may give the impression that an epic tale is in store for you.  If so, I apologize.  Epic really is not the word to use.  Silly is better.

This morning, I awakened at my parents' house at my usual time.  My excellent father had thoughtfully let my dog out to play and be fed with the others, so I was allowed about 20 minutes of dog free rest.  When I finally dragged myself out of bed in a highly groggy state, I gathered my belongings and went to the bathroom to shower.

Generally, I try to make a habit of closing the door to my room when I stay with my parents.  This is a habit that was newly acquired with the addition of Lena to our pack due to her propensity to pilfer my stockings.  Nothing is quite as effective as a door.

Unfortunately, this habit sometimes fails in the morning when my mind is still stuck in sleep mode where I am fighting mythical beasts and wearing really uncomfortable shoes.  This morning was one such failure.

After showering, I emerged from the bathroom and returned to my bedroom for slippers.  I opened the closed door and noticed that my Hello Kitty socks were sitting on my bed.  Unfolded.  As I pondered this mystery, my father came upstairs.  I picked up the socks and looked at him questioningly.  He affirmed that one of these socks had been found at the top of the stairs and the other down in the living room.  The culprit?  None other than Lena, aka The Naughty Sock Monster.

Was the accused off hiding somewhere?  Oh no.  She was right there, tail wagging, watching me and probably hoping that I would reward her with a treat (or a sock).  I shook my head and went downstairs to promptly be swarmed by the angry mob that is our dog pack who were waiting impatiently for their morning Dingo.  Believe me, these dogs mean business.  The Mighty Thor cries, whines and dramatically lolls around on the floor.  The Naughty Sock Monster barks and makes Yoda-like growly throat noises.  Pippi the Super Genius just sits and stares at me.

As I tend to feel a little contrary in the morning, I sometimes like to make them wait.  I hate to give in to bullies.  Unfortunately, if my mother is still in bed at this time, the extra ruckus can be a bit of a problem.  Dingo treats are a lovely solution to the problem as they typically occupy the hounds for 5-10 noise-free minutes.  I call it crowd control. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Naughty Sock Monster

As Lena and I approach the three month mark of our dog-person relationship, I am starting to notice that she is becoming a bit more bold in her home behavior. 

To be clear, her behavior at my home versus my parents' home has always been markedly distinct, but I fear that some of her sneaky (dare I say "naughty?") actions are leaching into our home life. 

Lena is not a free-range dog, no matter how much I would love for her to be one.  While there are no humans present in the house, she is confined to her kennel.  I know you may think this sounds cruel, but she doesn't hate it as much as I would have assumed to start.  Maybe that is because she is rewarded copiously with Charley Bear treats every time she kennels-up. 

The other night, as I was trying to work on my school assignments, Lena tried her best to distract me.  Lest you think that I am a negligent dog owner, please know that I had already taken her for a walk, fed her dinner, given her a Dingo chewie, played with her and laid out all her toys.  In a bold effort, I decided to do something I try never to do:  open my window shades. 

This actually proved to be a good idea.  I have a large chair positioned in my west-facing front window that not only affords a perfect view of passers-by but a sunny warm spot to relax for my obviously in need of relaxation pooch.

After this amazing discovery, I am afraid that it has released Lena's desire to be allowed more and more freedoms.

On the morning after the window shade opening, I awoke at 6 a.m. (as is my custom of late) and we started our usual morning routine.  Typically, Lena stays close to me and doesn't wander off on her own too much.  We made it through most of the morning to the point when I dry my hair in the bathroom.  Normally, she will play in the bathroom and watch me surreptitiously as she knows we are nearing the point in time when she must enter her kennel, which in her mind equals TREATS.

However, recently Lena has started to be a bit more brave and has found her way to my bed while I do my morning beauty regimen.  This is fine with me.  On this particular morning, her disappearance in the direction of my bedroom led me to believe that she was again sleeping on my bed, so I continued my process. 

About five minutes later, I spotted Miss Lena creeping around the corner of the bathroom door with something white in her mouth.  Immediately I ceased my makeup application and attended to this new development.  I extracted a small piece of tissue from her mouth and threw it away.  As I was well aware that this small piece of tissue must have come from a larger piece of tissue, I walked to my bedroom with trepidation.  Sure enough, there were about 20 pieces of tissue spread out all over my bedroom floor, pulled from my trash.

After cleaning this up, I attempted to resume my morning routine.  Lena, for some reason, decided to stretch out under my bed with her back end sticking out.  I shrugged this off for the moment, like the naive fool that I am.

When I finally finished in the bathroom, I came to the bedroom to retrieve Lena for her final trip outside to relieve herself to discover that she had one of my clean ankle socks dangling from her mouth.  Lena has a very strong addiction to socks of all kinds.  She doesn't chew on them so much as she just likes to carry them around.  She is aware that it is bad because usually when I see her with one and say her name sternly, she immediately drops it on the ground and leaves.

For some reason, on this particular morning, she decided to rebel.  Instead of dropping the evidence, she retreated to under the bed, possibly under the assumption that I could not reach her to retrieve her prize.  Unfortunately, she did not count on the fact that I have very long arms and am not afraid to use them.  Again, she didn't fight for the sock.  She was more than willing to drop it and let me put it away.  She didn't even seem sorry, sad or angry about it. 

Obviously, I am no dog psychologist.  Aside from the Kleenex (and a few plush toys and mechanical pencils) she is not destructive.  Actually, she has several plush toys that have made it three months without any signs of impending disembowelment.  My parents' dogs could never do this - they have a life mission to rip open and consume the innards of any and all stuffed toys.  This is why they no longer are given such presents. 

So what is Lena's criteria?  Darned if I know.  In a moment of stupidity I considered giving Lena her own pair of socks.  Well, really, an old pair of my socks that I have no intention of ever wearing again.  I figured that this would diminish her desire to pursue other socks.  Then I thought about it some more and came to the conclusion that this gift may only confuse her more.  I mean, how is she to know which socks are off-limits? 

To conclude, I would just like to say thank goodness that summer is almost here.  Not only because sunshine is nice and it's fun to be outside, but it also means that my sandals can come out to play.  Theoretically, I suppose there could be an argument made that sandals do not automatically negate the wearing of socks, but I am not of that fashion-challenged mindset.  For me, sandals = no socks.  My socks will go into temporary retirement for the summer and perhaps by the time they return, Lena will have lost interest or forgotten that she likes them.  Maybe.  We'll see.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Hallinglag Cometh

As promised, I am now prepared to discuss the briefly referenced "Hallinglag" of a previous post.  Are you ready?  Promise?

In case you couldn't tell from the name of my blog, I am of Scandinavian heritage.  Specifically, Norwegian and Swedish.  Most of the Norwegian line comes courtesy of my father and his family. 

Conveniently for me, both sets of grandparents descended from immigrants who came over from the same region of Norway.  This region is called Hallingdal. 

For further street cred, I have actually BEEN to Hallingdal.  While it is a beautiful place, it is certainly not the most wild and bustling corner of the world.  It's pretty much in the middle of Norway, in a valley that has been forged by a river running down from the mountains.  The region itself is rather "hilly" and is full of treacherous "switchbacks" that can provide hours of carsickness for the uninitiated (not me, of course). 

Pride in heritage is something that most people are familiar with, or so I believe.  Obviously, as time wears on and people become increasingly ethnically diverse, it may become more difficult to claim and cling to one particular line of heritage, but for me it is not yet to that point.  For generations older than myself, it is even easier.

This brings me to present day events.  Or wait, is there still time for a bit more history?  Great.

So, as part of an effort to keep the tradition and connections to the "old country" alive, ancient relatives of yours truly helped to found and create a club for people who came from Hallingdal to the United States.  Here is some news for you:  a LOT of these people settled in the Midwest of the U.S.  I am talking about Minnesota (of course), Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota and even maybe Wisconsin (if I'm feeling nice).  This should give you a hint of where this club usually met.

How far back does it go?  Well, I don't have my official records here right now, but I do know that they were meeting as far back as the early 1900's in scenic Brooten, MN.  Nowadays, the club continues, but in a more geriatric form.  My grandfather and many of my great-aunts and great-uncles have proudly participated over the years.  They publish a monthly magazine (Hallingen) for members (like my father) and hold a yearly gathering called the Hallinglag. 

For years, I have perused the Hallingen with mild interest and expressed little or no desire to attend the Hallinglag.  My grandfather has attended and has even bought me souvenirs - including solje - to try and lead me to have an interest with no luck.

OK, so NOW we are in the present.  It all started when my uncle announced that he was coming home from Arizona in June specifically to attend the Hallinglag with my grandfather.  Of additional interest to note is that my grandfather turns 85 this summer.

For some reason still not completely clear to me, I came to the conclusion that it would be an excellent idea for me to make my debut appearance at the Hallinglag this year.  Of course, there were some stipulations - mainly that I would not have to share a hotel room with my grandfather.  When I ran this idea past my parents, it was met initially with shock, but after that the feedback was positive.

So to bring this all together, I will be attending the Hallinglag in Fargo, ND this summer with my grandfather, uncle and father.  Oh, and I am pretty sure that some other relatives will be there too.  I am taking bets now to see who thinks that I will be one of the youngest people there by at least 20 years.

I really have no idea what to expect for this, but I do know that I will be touring a sword museum at some point and possibly doing some sort of folk dance.  Oh, and I will finally get a chance to display my solje.  Too bad no one ever bought me a bunad to go with it.  I guess a girl can't have everything.

As a final note, if you don't know what some of my odd words mean, do the research.  Google usually works just fine.

Until then, I need to get back to my exciting journal articles for my upcoming papers.  Plus, my dog seems to need some attention.  Priorities are important, dontcha know.