Sunday, November 29, 2009

Black Friday for Dogs

I was up at the crack of dawn to chase birds not bargains. No worries, this year I'm doing all my shopping online

This is Deuce, Lukas and Denise's German Shorthair who hasn't quite figured out that he's not a lap dog.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pioneer Woman meets Womeninc Woman

From the moment I saw that the Mall of America was on Pioneer Woman's book tour, I knew I was going to be there. What I didn't know was how emotional, complicated, exhausting and absolutely amazing the experience would become.

My plans for media access didn't work out and I seriously considered skipping the event. We had a family wedding and the kids were all going to be home. It felt slightly, actually overwhelmingly, selfish to leave my dear ones at home to go stand in line for hours with the goal of spending about a minute with a complete stranger.

But I did it anyway.

However, first I had to lay out Sam's clothes for the wedding, including the socks. It's just what I do.

I had planned to leave at 8 am and arrive at the MOA by 10. But August was up and there's no abandoning a freshly awake, warm, sweet, snuggly toddler...Then I realized that I had no business cards in my purse and had to go to my office and get some. At which time I thought maybe I should have my digital voice recorder just in case an opportunity arose for an interview so I went back home to get it.

I entered Nordstroms at 11 am and made a bee-line to the ground level, quickly found the line, got my wristband and hurried into the "corral." At first it didn't seem like there were that many people ahead and the line grew longer and longer behind me.

Maybe this wouldn't take all day after all. Maybe I might make it in time for dinner at the wedding. Maybe I should buy one more book. Maybe I should have thought to bring a snack.

Time passed quickly in the line--thanks to my "line buddies" Lisa and Catherine. We were lucky enough to be  next to the fountain so were actually able to sit on the edge for the first two hours--and did we talk!!! And Lisa had yummy homemade Swedish rusk to snack on. (Raise your hand if you know what that is.) Hi Minnesota Lisa! I found Cat's blog through facebook

As the time drew closer to 1 pm, the anticipation grew until finally the announcer introduced  her. Here is my first photo--with my thanks to the 8'3" tall man in front of me who moved aside long enough for me to snap this photo:

She's such a pretty girl!

Ree answered some audience questions and was sweet, funny and nervous. Soon the line began to move slowly. It was then I discovered that the first three rows of the zig-zag queue were twice as long as I thought. But there was no turning back or bailing out now. I figured I'd still make the wedding dance...besides, a murmur passed through the crowd to my left...could it be, why yes it was, Marlboro Man!

Hel-lo MM!

Please don't let that be a wide angle lens--if ever I wish they'd invented spanx that covered from the chin down, it's now.

I am SO close! Hi Ree!

Lisa went first, then, me, then Catherine. While Lisa was having her book signed, the gals handling the books and the cameras (who btw did an awesome job) came over and uttered the last words I needed to hear right then. At 3:55 pm. The wedding started at 4 pm. I was three hours away and had to stop home and change clothes.
"She's going to take a quick break right now!"
I couldn't stop myself, I begged them, "Please let me go. I'm supposed to be at my nephew's wedding. In Iowa. In 5 minutes."
They had mercy on me.

She remembered my crazy email--and didn't have me dragged away by security, all-in-all a  good experience.

Lisa was waiting for me as I came off the platform and we were a bit giddy. Then she told me that PW had told her she really had to go to the bathroom.

I felt terrible. Here I was fretting about a stupid wedding while enjoying a mild state of dehydration because I didn't want to drink anything while in line. Ree had polished off a fairly good-sized beverage and been sitting there for 3 hours.

Lisa and I then approached the table where MM and the boys were seated. The little boys were drawing.

Some of the ink made it on the paper--

I'm not sure it will show up here on the post but both boys had ink on their faces.
But then I'm also the mom of two boys who can appreciate their creativity.

I hurried through Nordstroms to my car...but just where did I park??

To be continued


I started working on my Pioneer Woman post last night--but found my thoughts instead consumed with an interview I did yesterday with Sandy and Steve Baskerville in Spirit Lake, Iowa. I met them at Spenser's Underground, a coffeeshop they opened and have operated for the past 2 1/2 years in honor and memory of their son Spenser.

The full story will appear in the April issue of Womeninc magazine but I cannot stop thinking about them. Even three years after the tragic loss of their son in a car accident, the grief is palpable--in their voices, their gestures and most of all in their eyes. The amazing part is how quickly the sadness is replaced by joy, hope and a sense of purpose as they share the story of how Spenser's Underground came to be.

Their initial plan was to create a coffeehouse that would be a place for high school students to hang out, listen to music, play games etc. They soon found that many high schoolers are busy with jobs and sports. Instead it is the middle school aged kids who fill the large funky room every day.

Sandy has developed a large assortment of coffees, snacks, smoothies and sweet treats that she serves up with a healthy helping of patience and a substantial side of her nurturing nature. She made me a fabulous spicy Thai chicken wrap for lunch.

So today as I prepare to start my day, knowing that I haven't even started thawing the turkey, I am first counting my blessings. First on the list is gratitude to God for his free gift of salvation through Jesus. Then for my family who I love and appreciate more every day. And, among my many other blessings, are the opportunities I've had over the past years to meet some of the most inspirational people I could possibly imagine and to have been given the privilege of sharing their stories.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Monday with August

Having so much fun with Addie and August here--we went to Bittersweet and Have You Any Wool in Winnebago (all yarns 25% off!) for yarn and fabric and stopped in at the Winnebago Grill for a second breakfast. Great food and a plate sized pancake for a dollar. While August napped we made aprons for Olivia and niece Haley.

Proofing this morning for the January Womeninc magazine. Then it's off to Spirit Lake to for a feature article interview.

Would you like to see a photo of Marlboro Man and the punks? Here you go:

You can't really tell it on this picture, but they both have drawn on their faces. Perhaps this is why MM has the Sharpie and the punks have ink pens.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sneak peek

Yes, that's Marlboro Man. Hoping to get the post about the book signing up today. Great day at the MOA!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The big day

has arrived. I'm off to the Mall of America for Pioneer Woman's book signing. I feel guilty leaving everyone here: Addie, Tedd, August, Sam, even my sister Verla who is here from Atlanta for the weekend. She and Mom are at Mom's house and I know they'll have a good day. I will meet up with my family at the wedding reception in Iowa.
After the disappointment on Wednesday, I had made up my mind not to go. But no one is my family is a quitter and I'm not going to be either. I'm just a terrible risk-taker.
Carol, enjoy your day with your family--I can't figure out how to email on my mobile access since the change to Verizon. Hopefully I will have some pictures to post.
The Womeninc Christmas party was lovely and well-attended last night. Santa was a little late--we figured maybe he was had trouble getting down from the basket in the fire truck after the Glows parade. There was Santa in one corner and a live nativity scene in the other. I overheard one of the adolescent shepherds ask the adult wise man, "How long do we have to be here."
Just like those shepherds isn't it. They have a hard time leaving their flocks.
I know the feeling well.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

So you think you've had a bad day

Mom and I were heading to Aunt Dolly's funeral early this morning and as we rounded the curve and approached the bridge, this is what we saw

It's corn. Lots of it.

It continues for about a half mile--almost all the way to the corner.
An entire semi-load of corn on the road.

Until this rots, grows or gets eaten I'm living at the end of the golden road.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Misunderstanding--I removed the previous posts. Still looking forward to Pioneer Woman on Saturday. Plan B is to arrive early and take my turn in line for a photo and book signing.
Womeninc media contact plan officially over.
Slightly disappointed--but still looking forward to the event.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pioneer Woman--Day 6

Still no word from PW. Carol @ Yeller Dog Ranch wisely suggested that I contact the publisher but so far no luck. I just had the idea to contact the MOA and find out who is in charge of the event and see if there might be a way through them.

I'm up early this morning--just pushed the button on the coffee. I really love this time of day. Just me, a blanket and full authority of the remote control to flip between Morning Joe, HLN Morning Express, CNN and whichever local news strikes my fancy. I take Mom her coffee between 7:45 and 8 depending on what time I have to be at work. Then I tune her radio to KBEW and she listens to the news and gets ready for the day.

Coffee's ready--be right back.

I must admit I'm a bit disappointed when I open up Outlook and there's nothing there from PW. Not that I don't appreciate my word of the day and Facebook updates, but a part of me really thought someone would be checking her email.

I even checked my internet provider spam filter. Do you check your spam filter? I wish I hadn't. "Magic blue pills" "ED meds free" "discreet shipping " "check out my drilling device"  EEEWWWWW!
Officially my last visit ever. Whatever gets caught there, stays there.

Excuse me while I go take a shower. And brush my teeth. And floss. And catch up on reading my devotions.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


I opened my phone to check the time during church today and it said I had a new voice mail. I didn't recognize the number and forgot about checking the voicemail until lunchtime.
It was my cousin Lonna and I knew as soon as I heard her voice that something was wrong. My Aunt Dolly, Mom's last surviving sister, passed away last night. Mom was shocked to hear the news--although Aunt Dolly's health had deteriorated over the past several weeks.
Mom finished her lunch and went to sit in her chair. After a few minutes, she said, "I think I want to go to my house for a little while. Somebody might be trying to call me."
I didn't raise any objection--Sam had to go to the school anyway and could drop her off. I realized that Mom probably just wanted some time to be alone. I picked her up late this afternoon and brought her back here. The past couple months have been a rough time for Mom-- too many losses. I am amazed by her resilience but also see some increased fragility in her physcially and emotionally.
So this week we will say goodbye to Amanda "Dolly" Falknor. A former school teacher and day care provider we will forever remember for her beautifully painted fingernails, her husky hearty laugh and her wavy strawberry blond hair that was its "natural" color to the very end.

Pioneer Woman Quest Day 3 & 4

I still haven't heard anything. But I haven't given up hope. I'm leaving comments on Facebook--tried sending her a direct Tweet but you can only tweet people who follow you.

She doesn't follow me.

 Pioneer Woman,  I am still going to see you Saturday. I can hardy wait!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pioneer Woman Quest--Day Two

Well, no word yet from my not-so-secret girl crush Pioneer Woman. Womeninc editor Katie is sending her a copy of the magazine--which is probably a good idea. I imagine PW has encountered her share of unstable, obsessive, nut-case fans.

I guess that kind of describes me, doesn't it?

So today I posted a note on her facebook page. I bet she's reading it right now. She only as 24,603 friends--how long could it take for her to come upon my message?

Am I the only one that has realized that perhaps sending a single email is maybe a minus 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 on the risky scale? Like what is the worst that could happen--ooooooh-she never reads it? Wow that hurt.

I need to get serious about getting risky.


PW, please, hear my plea from afar.

I'll make you proud.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A girl can dream

After four antagonizing phone conversations yesterday with the manufacturer of my demon possessed oven, whose name starts with the month after April and ends with a children's running game, I'm ready to take on any challenge that comes my way.

I can't believe I did it, but I actually sent this to Pioneer Woman. She's going to be at the Mall of America on November 21 and I came up with the crazy idea to try to set up a time to meet her and interview her for Womeninc.

I'll keep you posted.

Here's what I sent:

Dear Ree,

I do my best thinking in the bathtub. When this idea came to me this morning, I knew I had to act on it. I'm not a person who takes risks. Ever. But I'm not getting any younger or thinner so here goes:

I follow your blog and consider myself a loyal fan. So loyal in fact that I'm planning to attend your book signing at the Mall of America on November 21--in spite of the fact that my nephew is also getting married that same day at 4 pm. I am two hours south of the Twin Cities and the wedding is in Iowa. If all goes according to plan, I will be able to do both. If not, that's Risk # 1. You'd have to know my sister-in-law. Trust me on this one

Here's Risk #2
I am a contributing writer for Womeninc Magazine based in southern Minnesota. One of the features included in each issue is entitled "What Are You Reading?" I feature books I'm reading, subscriber recommendations and occasionally interview an author for the column. Would it be possible for me to have a few minutes for a quick interview and photo for use in an upcoming issue? I will make every effort to work around your schedule prior to the 1 pm start time. If not, I will still be thrilled to have you sign the books I am giving everyone for Christmas

Risk # 3 is that I'm that I'm going to share this crazy idea on my blog:
For my minion. I think there are 10 followers now.

And I'm sorry about the bathtub reference earlier. I'm in a hurry and I thought it might get your attention. Probably not one of my better ideas.
Thanks PW,
Nina Patten
Copy Editor and Contributing Writer
A publication of Sauck Media Group

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's Great to be Omee part 2

Olivia and I drove through the Blue Earth McDonalds to get an order of McNuggets and then join GG Patten and Denise at Subway. To the right of McDonalds is a Lampert Lumber Yard. Olivia announced, "I don't yike that store. My daddy yikes that store. That store's not for girls."

"No, honey, that's a store where girls send their daddies"

OK, I'm her Omee and I have plenty of time for the "girls can do anything a boy can do" lectures.

I think I'll just let her enjoy being a princess for now.

It's Great to be Omee part 1

August was not feeling well this weekend so came up with his own version of "feed a cold, starve a fever"

He modeled his new hat

He played with his "beep beeps"

And this morning said "Hi Omee" to me on the phone.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Busy weekend

Just ask Maddie.

Where to Begin?

This may be a series of posts that goes in reverse order of occurrence. As much as I hate those movies that begin with the ending and unfold in a series of flashbacks, that may be the best way to catch up.

I was in the kitchen, we were just home from church, when my nephew Dan's pickup truck rumbled into the driveway. It's deer hunting--and he was stopping by to check in with the guys.

One look and I knew I had to grab the camera and get out there. Quick.

Don't you agree? Look close:

I love my red neck nephew. He's getting married in a couple weeks. His friend Mark was with him today, and said proudly, "This is his wedding gift."

Lukas laughed and said, "You know I was looking over your registry and was wondering how much of that stuff you'd picked out."
Dan replied, "This sure beats a bunch of wooden spoons."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Where are your manners?

Oh the irony of this post...I'm about to go on a rant about manners
I'm all on my soapbox--sentences and words are running rampant in my head.
Until I re-visited the content of my last entry.
So, forgive me in the knowledge that it's a blog. It's mine. And let's all just move on...

To begin, I will tell you that I've completely overbooked this week. At this moment I'm sitting in a living room devoid of furniture save the recliner I now occupy. Because, as if I didn't have another thing going on, we are having the carpets shampooed tomorrow.

Into that mix, lets add the fact that Sam yesterday found out he fractured a bone in his lower  back two weeks ago when he fell off a ladder. Yes, that's right, while we were at Mayo for his esophageal issues, he could hardly walk, sit, lay down or sleep. But that will be another story for another time.

Yesterday I served as head election judge for the school district referendum vote. Six weeks ago when I was asked to serve, I readily agreed. I've done it before, knew the other judges were capable and feel it is a valuable service to the community.

I now know that some citizens view elections and those of us who are there to earn our whopping $8.00 per hour differently.

Is is the table? Does that form enough of a barrier that some individuals find themselves feeling empowered to unload their frustrations with no thought to the reality that we are only there to hand them a piece of paper and count them at the end of the night?

It started before the voters even arrived, when another judge shared a confrontational encounter she had earlier in the day with a member of the community questioning who chose the judges and that those of us serving did not represent an acceptable demographic cross-section of the community. At which point I do believe I actually snorted.

Here's your Winnebago demographic:
You either live in town or you don't
You either wear clothing bearing the name of a bar, service organization, or sports team or your jacket says Carharrt.
You either trust and support the local governmental officials or believe that they are buffoons who will end up indicted or impeached.

A few people showed up to vote who didn't live in the school district. One guy would not leave--even after I unrolled my ginormous school district map that clearly showed his home to be in a neighboring district.

One gentlemen entered the room dressed from head to toe in camouflage deer-hunting attire. Obviously irate at having been forced to leave his deer stand before sundown to cast his vote, he launched into a 15 minute tirade about the voting hours, necessity of the vote, why this vote was taking place in a non-election year and the fact that he still had to get home, get cleaned up and attend a choir concert. We thought it was over when he disappeared into the voting booth, but he emerged and re-visited each and every point of his diatribe.

This is a man who has no regular job.

Another prominent community member came to vote and proceeded to boisterously complain to my fellow-judge in a completely rude and inappropriate manner about a situation involving a board on which she serves.

We were all relieved to lock the door at 8 pm.

The whole experience was exhausting and really has me thinking about where and when it's appropriate to be rude and confrontational. It's easy to vent and unload on someone from whom we are separated by a table, counter, car window, phone or computer screen.

And I will admit I'm often guilty of doing that very thing.

But I'm really wondering when rudeness replaced civility. Thumper's mother knew  best when she gave him this advice, "If you can't say something nice, say nothing at all."