Thursday, May 31, 2012

Working Nights

On my way home from work today I was faced with the question that all of us dread, "What will I make for supper?" I was reminded of the days when my dad worked nights in the arena. The bad part of these days was that we didn't get to see him until he got home at 11 pm. The great part was that we'd come home a wonderful meal that he'd cooked. I remember walking in and smelling pot roast or bananna upside down cake or a homemade apple pie. He'd have things going in the slow cooker and the baked goods cooling out on the counter. We were all glad when winter was over and he went back to working days but we did miss those awesome dinners.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Today I had a minute to look around at my kitchen as I was cleaning up. In every nook and cranny there was a reminder of my dad and his penchant for a "project". I looked above our stove and thought of the day he decided to tile the backsplash. He and mom were in town for the weekend and Steve casually mentioned that he wanted to put some tile up. It was not five minutes later that he and dad were headed to Menards for tile , grout and everything needed to do that project. This was a little bit of a challenge for Steve who grew up thinking about the project for a year or two, then shopping for supplies and finally 5-10 years later embarking on the project.
Next, I opened my lazy susan cupboard and saw the ingenious way dad figured out how to fix the hinge. He kept asking, " So, how much do you think I saved you on that job?"

We learned that it was better to make a list of projects we wanted help with because if there was no list dad would find a project anyway. It makes me happy to think of all the ways my dad is still with me. I'll think of him every time I open that lazy susan or wipe down that backsplash.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bird Attack

Today's story takes us back to a hunting trip my dad made up near the Aggasiz refuge. He and his friend Mike were hunting and it was barely light out. Dad saw what he thought was an injured goose. He went to pick it up and it took a swipe right across dad's eyes. Instead of a goose it was a cormorant. Dad came home with scratched corneas and an intense curiosity about why cormorants were protected birds.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pontoon Cruise

Dear Dad,
We took our first pontoon ride of the season today. It was a beautiful day on the water and of course both Erik and Stella took a turn driving. At one point we all got a little misty missing you and thinking of all of our rides together in the past. Stella climbed up on grandma's lap as she was crying and said, "Grandpa's right over there." We know you were with us today out on the water. Did you chuckle a little as Steve and Jason maneuvered to get Stella's pacifier that had fallen in the water?

PS...Whatever you did to tune up the motor must have worked. The boat drove beautifully!

Good Neighbor

Yesterday we visited our friend Bekah and Mark Lundstrom's new cabin and I heard another story about my dad. When they moved in their neighbor talked about meeting my dad and Steve when he was bringing a load of leaves into the dump. He had a full trailer and dad and Steve decided to help him unload. They visited and of course because friends in a matter of minutes. For dad it was a natural impulse to help someone if they needed it.

My dad was the kind of neighbor that you wanted. He'd leave his own projects and help you out if you needed it. It made him happy to be able to lend a hand.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Statler Brothers

Tonight we really missed you dad. Jason played the song Elizabeth by the Statler Brothers on the juke box and we all remembered how you used to clap off the beat and dance in your crazy, lovable, uncoordinated way. We all cried about the times we'll miss together and then laughed moments later about all of your goofy ways. Then at the bonfire the neighbors at the lake all came over and told stories about what a legend you were on the lake. They all agreed that the walleye are lucky this year.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Walleye Dreams

Today I'm writing two stories because I missed yesterday due to some technical difficulties. As Steve and Jason get ready for fishing tomorrow morning I'm reminded of the fishing lessons I learned from my dad:
1. Fish on a lake that has some structure. For you non-fisherman that means you need a sunken island or something like that to have a truly good fishing spot.
2. Don't fish in the middle of the day....that's for amateurs! The true fisherman get up early and get the big fish.
3. If you are really going to fish you need two boats. One should be for taking to nearby lakes and the other stays in the water for those quick trips out.
4. No matter where you are fishing tell anyone who asks that you fished on Potato. If they asked how you did say, " Not bad"with a glint in your eye. Don't give anything away.

Are We Talking Crestliner?

We are spending Memorial Weekend at the cabin. As we made up our way up 94 I noticed all the boats, trailers, RVs and campers. This reminded me of one of my dad's favorite questions, "Are we talking Crestliner?" When Steve got the job as the assistant principal at John Marshall one of the first things dad wanted to know was what we'd do with his pay raise. "Are we talking
Crestliner Steveo?" When I worked a week of consulting for the St.Croix Ed District dad asked,"So how much did you make? Are we talking Crestliner?" When we got our tax refund dad didn't ask how much we got he just said, "Are we talking Crestliner?"No Crestliner yet dad but Steve is doing a lot of shopping!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

First Haircut

Erik got his first haircut today. As the girl gently cut his blonde curls I thought of both Anna and Ellie's first haircuts.

They took place in the high chair at the lake cabin and were given by grandpa Myles. With both of them he bribed them with candy and then had them sit while he gave them a trim. I remember Anna sitting patiently while he cut her bangs and then seeing her look up at him with those wide brown eyes like, "Grandpa, what are you doing to me?"

We videotaped Erik's haircut today and he got a special certificate but I don't think anything can come close to a haircut from grandpa.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cross Country Adventure

Today I looked out my backyard at all of the houses and yards and thought back to when we first moved in. The backyard was just a field then and the kids loved to play back there. As I recall dad was watching Ellie, mom and I were shopping, and Steve was taking a nap. ( It was a fairly typical day.) Dad could see Steve's parents house from our place so he decided he'd just go cross-country to their house with Ellie on his shoulders. Butch and Wendy recall seeing his head bobbing up and down as he went up and down the hill and through neighbors yards to get to their place. Dad was a country kid at heart and he didn't think you needed to worry about silly things like property lines and sidewalks. The kids still ask if they can take grandpa's shortcut to Butch and Wendy's.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chief Irritant

I know these blog posts have been making my dad look like a saint but I'll let you in on a little secret. My dad had a gift for being extremely annoying. One of his favorite things to do was to wait until one of us was watching a sad movie and he noticed tears. Then he'd cry and wail loudly to irritate us. Another one of his tricks was to take a feather and rub it under our noses while we were sleeping. When I was little we even had a contest to see how long I could go without laughing. When mom was watching TV he'd creep up behind her and play with the back of her hair, hoping she thought it was a mouse. Then he'd sing, " Su-san don't bother me. Su-san don't bother me. Su-san don't bother me" until she got up and chased him out of the room. It's strange the funny things you miss. I'd give anything for a little fake crying or a feather under my nose.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Green Thumb

Today we were planting flowers and shrubs in memory of dad. As we were planting we all remembered advice Grandpa Myles had given us about planting. Steve remembered that he told him to slice the roots a little bit vertically so they expanded. We did this as we planted a new shrub. Anna remembered that he said to dig a little hole and put your flower in there. Ellie thought about some of his favorite flowers when she picked out her wave petunias. Erik enjoyed the good salty popcorn from Sargeants and we all laughed because that was one of grandpa's favorite treats.

We felt close to dad today as we dug in the dirt and prettied up our yard.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Dream Playhouse

I am posting this at the risk of making all of you jealous but it's a fact; I had the best playhouse growing up. My dad and grandpa worked on the playhouse and fashioned it to look just like our real house. It had many features that were unique. They included: a dutch door ( which opened halfway up), sliding glass windows( perfect for playing drive through) and a tile floor which matched our utility room. My sisters and I spent hours playing there and imagining the lives of our babies: Jessica, Miranda and Lucy. Dad would always take time to come through our drive through and place an order when we were playing. He was never too busy to take time to giggle with us. We were so blessed!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Homegrown Carnival

It is school carnival season. Steve worked the carnival wheel at Harriet Bishop( Ellie's school) and taunted grade schoolers into throwing away their money on a chance at a rubber ducky. I spent the evening at the Lollipop wheel at Elton Hills ( Anna's school) crossing my fingers that kids would find the sucker with the lucky black dot. This all got me thinking about the homegrown carnival that dad created for one of my birthday parties. The thing I remember best was the fishpond which was set up downstairs. Dad stood behind a curtain and put on prize after prize on the fishing pole. Then he'd tug hard and the kids would claim their prize. He also created a scavenger hunt and the kids had to find where we got our mail. My city friends had a hard time finding the mailbox down the road.

I always had the best birthday parties in my class thanks to my parents.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sweet Corn for Sale

It's planting time and this makes me think of dad and our big money-making scheme when we were young. Dad would plant an acre of sweet corn and we'd be the pickers. I remember many a summer morning where I'd be awakened with, "They need 80 dozen at Erl's. They day's a wasting girls."

Myndy and I would join dad in the rows of sweet corn with our burlap sacks and pick corn. We had to stay away from the ones with worms and also the ones with smut ( it's not what it sounds like). Once we had all of our corn picked we'd haul it to town to Erl's market and collect our earnings. Everything went in a jar for our big summer trip to Winnipeg. We'd stay at the Windsor Park Inn and slide down the waterslide all weekend.

I think my sisters and I all developed a great work ethic because of things like this. Now...where can I plant an acre of sweet corn in Rochester?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fresh Walleye

One of my dad's favorite things to do was to catch a bunch of walleye and then give it away to friends and neighbors. Mom and dad would stop by Larry and Norma's, Effie's, and anyone on the way from the house to the cabin. When the fish supply was plentiful he'd plan a fish fry and stir up his original batter and invite the neighbors at the lake. I think almost everyone on Upper Bottle had at one time or another sampled dad's fish. He'd also try to give the fish away as we headed for home. "Did you guys bring a cooler? Need some more fish in Rochester? Make sure you get some for Grandma GG and Butch and Wendy."

Dad's generosity was boundless. It may have also had something to do with the fact that he wanted to go out and fish some more and had to get rid of some fillets in order to do so. Either way many people benefited from dad's angling.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Working Hands

One of the things that I will always remember best about my dad were his hands. No matter what he'd been doing they always had a bit of dirt and grease on them. They were working hands with callouses and rough spots. Mom always said that whenever his hands started getting clean you knew he would be into another project or job.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Robe

Anna has been asking me to write this story about dad for a few days so I am fulfilling her request.

My dad was never one to wear either pajamas or a robe. When it came to bedtime wear he was a minimalist. The most I ever saw him wear was a pair of boxer shorts. This is why his purchase of a fuzzy gray robe seemed so strange. The day before he passed away he and mom stopped in Bemidji for a little shopping and a quick lunch. He gave her thirty minutes to shop and when they met up again he had two big bags and she had nothing. She was very surprised when she saw the robe. Later that night home in Thief River dad was strutting around wearing the robe. "Myles" Susie said, "you look like a great big gray squirrel in that robe." "I'm not a squirrel, I'm the Easter bunny," dad said as he hopped around the living room. Later mom commented that she was cold. "You just want to wear my robe," he teased. "If nothing else we can always cut this up for chamois was only five dollars."

Dad was joking and laughing with all of us until the very last moment we had together. We'll miss all your practical jokes and antics, dad. There is a hole in our hearts that can't be filled.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Car Wash

I thought of my dad today because my van desperately needs a car wash. Having a clean car was kind of like a religion for my dad. Before we went to school we knew about armorall, whitewashing tires, and chamois clothes. The drill went something like this:
1. Drive car up to pumphouse.
2. Hose down car and get sprayed by dad who was sneakily wielding another hose.
3. Soap up car and dodge the spray from dad's hose as he rinsed.
4. Dry the car with insanely small chamois clothes.
5. Dry spots again because they did not meet inspection.
6. Park clean and shiny car in the yard and avoid driving the two miles of gravel for as long as possible so the car would actually remain clean.

I promise I'll take the car through the carwash tomorrow dad. I know it's not quite the same as doing it myself but it's still a clean car.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Time for a Bait Fridge

Today was opening fishing and we all thought of dad all day long. My cousin Shawn, his friend Dan, and my Uncle Lyle are all here fishing and helping us get through this weekend without dad. One of the stories that we told last night was about the time we discovered it was time for dad to have a seperate bait fridge. Mom had made a jello salad and had covered it with tin foil.
Dad had stored his leeches in the same fridge and somehow one had gotten out and onto the tin foil. That jello salad did not ever make it to the dinner table and dad was given permission to buy his own bait fridge.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dad approval

The year was 1999 and I was interviewing for a teaching job in Rochester Minnesota. It was a reading position and I was really excited for a new challenge. The interview went well and they offered me the job on the spot. ( I should disclose that it was August and they really needed a reading teacher). My principal offered me the job and I hesitated, "It sounds good but I just need to run it by my dad." I called dad on her cell phone, he asked me about salary, benefits, and my overall feel for the district and then he gave me the green light.

I know I am going to have those moments when I just need to get your advice, dad, so be ready.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rochester Routine

When people think of Rochester, Minnesota they think of the Mayo Clinic, IBM, and the thousands of annoying geese that inhabit our fair city. Not my dad. He had a little different Rochester routine when he came to visit. His first stop was always Northern Tool and Equipment. "Steve", he'd say," let's head over to Northern to see if they have any deals." He always came home with something that was essential.... according to him. Drill bits, specialty tools, and those little lights for your caps all found their way to our house courtesy of my dad.
His next stop was Hunan Garden for the lemon chicken. He was a big fan of the table in the corner with the lazy susan that you could spin.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bedtime Stories

I know most kids love bedtime stories. Many probably remember Goldlilocks, Hansel and Gretel and the Little Engine that Could but we were brought up with bedtime stories of a different nature. The protagonist of our stories was Speerno. Speerno was an eerie character who liked to roam around with his pet The Wolf. Most of the time the stories of Speerno only came out when mom was not around. ( I think dad must have sensed that mom would be a little nervous about a main character who liked to eat children for breakfast). Speerno roamed the woods between my Uncle Lyle's house and our house and watched for little children who were not listening. My sisters and I lived in fear of Speerno but like any good horror story we could not get enough of the details about him and his pet wolf. Dad indulged us, scared us silly, and then talked us down from our fear. I'll treasure your stories dad, even though they scared the liver out of me.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Celebration Day

Today's story takes me back to when I was a little girl. As some of you know my dad was a reformed alcholic and he went through treatment when I was in second grade.

I can remember those days as clearly as if they were yesterday. Mom and I would make the drive over to Crookston to Glenmore and I'd get a pit in my stomach about halfway there. I participated in the family sessions and as a little girl they were hard for me because I only wanted to talk about what I loved about my daddy. The day I looked forward to most was Friday, celebration day. On this day we got to talk about all of the things that we loved about the person going through treatment. I remember working for hours on my list. Some of my items were as follows: he is lucky, he is a good barbeque griller, he is a good hunter, he is a good fisherman, he is a good tickler. I think the total count was 138 items. I know that sobriety was a hard choice for my dad but he chose ,us, his family.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Road Trip

The summer after my senior year of college was spent driving from one town to the next looking for the elusive English teaching position. English majors were a dime a dozen in those days and I remember 200 applicants for one position in Minnetonka. I was excited because I'd landed an interview in Mankato so mom and dad filled up my car with gas, wished me luck and I was on my way.
Around Clearwater I started noticing some problems with my car. The temperature gauge was high and climbing. Of course it was late in the evening and there were no mechanics open to assist me. I had to be to my interview by 8 am so my options were limited. I called dad. He hopped in the car, drove the four hours to Clearwater and picked me up. In the meantime I hung out at a truck stop and read a book. When dad got there we headed down to Mankato and I made it there in time for the interview. Dad rented a hotel room slept for a couple of hours and then picked me up. We made the trip back to Clearwater, he fixed my car, and headed back home.
The funny thing about the whole trip was that I never worried for a second about making it to my job interview. I knew my dad would drop everything and come and get me. That's just what he did. After all that work you're probably wondering if I got the job. Nope. In fact, after I had spent 90 minutes writing an essay about my philosophy of education they told me that they already had a candidate but they wanted a back up "in case". My dad and I laughed about that on the way home.

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Today was my dad's favorite kind of day. Nope, not sunny and 80 but a great day for finding nightcrawlers. This morning when I opened the garage door to head out to Sunday school the girls were delighted to find nightcrawlers. I remember that after a big rain dad would head into town to look in the streets for nightcrawlers. He'd have his special light that fit on his hat and an ice cream bucket and if his luck was good he'd have bait for the next few fishing trips.

I hope there are plenty of crawlers in heaven, dad, and I hope the fishing is good.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Deer Horns

I was bathing Erik tonight and thought of the bath times we had as kids. My dad was usually in charge of bath time because mom was cleaning up from dinner or doing laundry. One of our favorite things was to get " deer horns". Dad would shampoo our hair and then shape our wet, soapy hair into two antlers...the bigger the better. I tried to make deer horns for Erik tonight but he just doesn't have enough hair. Maybe in a year or two.

Mouse Play

If you know my mom at all you know she is deathly afraid of mice. This was a bit of a problem living out in the country surrounded by fields. Each year in the fall we'd inevitably find some mice in the house and mom would threaten to move out until they were all gone.

My dad took advantage of this fear and had a little fun. One of his favorite pasttimes was to get dryer lint and electrical tape and fashion little pretend mice. These would pop up when you least expected it. In a drawer, a cupboard, or even under a couch cushion. In fact, the day after dad passed away I opened the towel drawer and found one of these creations.

Living with my dad was an adventure and you just never knew what he was going to come up with next.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Equality Principle

Today I went to a conference from Dr. Jim Knight on instructional coaching. He talked about the principle of equality and how important this is when you coach teachers. I got to thinking about my dad and how he practiced the equality principle each day. It did not matter to him if you were a Sentenced to Serve worker, a part timer, or the mayor. He saw each person as the same in how valuable they were and treated everyone with compassion and dignity. He was also the first person to give someone a second chance. This was very apparant as people came and visited at the prayer service. One man said, " I know you don't know me but I worked with your dad and he made me feel important and valued." Another said, " your dad always looked out for us part-timers and made sure we were being treated fairly." I was so proud as I listened to these stories and thought about the impact dad had made.

Dad, I'll try to live the equality principle each day and see the humanity in everyone as you did.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Gopher Girl

Today's story is about one of my favorite memories as a child, gopher trapping. When I got old enough I was allowed to go with dad to check the gopher traps. We earned a quarter from the township for each gopher that we were able to trap. We thought this was big money!

This gopher trapping scheme was also instrumental in helping my sister Katy get rid of her pacifier. Myndy, Katy and I were riding with dad and checking traps. As we were on our way to the first trap he started to tell us about a baby gopher who needed a pacifier. He said she didn't have one and was really sad. He must have been convincing... by the time we got to the first hole Katy gave up her paci and threw it down the hole for the baby. She was so proud that she had helped that little gopher. Luckily we did not put it all together that we had just trapped the mama gopher.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Ice fishing disaster

Today's story involves my first trip ice fishing. I was only around three years old and my mom was very nervous about letting me go with dad but he promised he'd watch me very carefully. We also had Uncle Ernie along for additional supervision. Those of you who knew Uncle EE know how much help he probably was.

I was wearing my blue and white sweatpants and sweatshirt ( always stylish) and we brought along a lot of snacks...integral to a good ice fishing adventure. I think the day went pretty well until after lunch when I started getting a little restless. My dad told me I should sit down and keep fishing but I kept running around and soon was up to my armpits in icy cold Lake of the Woods water. I spent the rest of the day in my underwear while my clothes dried. Dad tried to keep it a secret but when I arrived home I said, "Guess what mom? I fell in the ice hole."