Saturday, July 30, 2011

Author Pilgrimage #1

Today we went to Mankato, MN to visit the Betsy-Tacy Society's preserved Betsy and Tacy Houses. It was a really neat day.

On the way down to Mankato, we came across the Biggest Candy Store in Minnesota. It was really neat. There is a GIANT gumball machine that you can't miss when you walk in the store. The girls posed by it (and were pleased to buy a gumball before we left).

Unlike my usual self, I told each girl that she could get a candy and a soda. This was perhaps a mistake. There are about a million different kinds of candy there. We saw ginger chews. We saw gummy rats. (YUCK!) We saw clove gum, which reminded me of the one time I smoked a clove cigarette. (It was disgusting. And "smoked" is probably too strong a word. I took a puff off a clove cigarette. I think I ran and brushed my teeth for like 20 minutes right after.) We saw lots of other candy that reminded me of a friend I had my freshman year of college. Lemon Heads. Pop Rocks. Pop Rocks! Wow! Anyway, Rose #3 was like beside herself with excitement, trying to figure out what to get:
And Rose #2 was dumbfounded with joy and surprise. She told me that when she is an adult, she was going to live at the candy store. The friends we were with said they would visit her. By the way, Rose #2 came out of the candy story with a giant thing full of taffy. "But Mom, you SAID we could get ONE THING of candy!"
After the candy store and a nice picnic lunch in St. Peter, we arrived in Mankato. The way to the Betsy and Tacy houses is not marked. Luckily we had Google Navigation which brought us right to Betsy's House! The girls all posed under the sign. Reggie, our friend, read several chapters of Betsy-Tacy on the ride down. Rose #1 had read the book before, but Roses #2 and #3 had not. It was really nice to have heard the book a bit before we arrived.
After a rather stern docent gave us a tour, we went over to Tacy's House, where it turned out we should have started all along. Tacy had 10 brothers and sisters, and she lived in a tiny house.
Here are the moms by the Betsy's House sign:
Betsy and Tacy often took their dinner out to the bench at the end of Hill street. This is not the actual bench, but it is supposedly in the same place. It is in a nice little grove, with (unfortunately) lots of mosquitoes. We think that when Betsy and Tacy (in real life, Maud Hart Lovelace and her best friend Frances "Bick" Kenney) brought their dinners and sat outside to eat them, there were no mosquitoes. Probably there weren't any trees at that point. Here are the girls sitting on the bench:
And the mommies with Reggie and Rose #3:
Betsy and Tacy had another friend, Tib (Marjorie "Midge" Gerlach) who lived really just around the block. The Betsy-Tacy society does not own Tib's house, but someone put a plaque on the front door:
Here's a better view:
It was a wonderful day. No TV because we were out on an author pilgrimage. After the pilgrimage we drove over to the Faribault water park and went swimming, a great activity for this hot Minnesota July day. I loved reading the Betsy Tacy books when I was young. Now they seem so sentimental and sweet; Betsy and Tacy were just darling little girls who loved each other and were lifelong friends. We should all be so lucky to have such friends.

We want to go on other Minnesota author pilgrimages. Can anyone think of any and recommend them?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Van Will Be Repaired!

I know that no one else cares about my van quite as much as I do (and truly, I don't care about it THAT much), but I just have to tell you all that the van is going to be repaired! The damages, while unfortunate and unpleasant from my perspective, do not exceed the cost to total the car. So, we will get our van back! Good as new, or almost. I am going to get it detailed. Who knows what those thieves were up to when they were driving it around? Oh yeah, they weren't just driving it. They were also removing the catalytic converter and the seats and the interior lights and the license plates. Jerks.

On a totally unrelated note, I sure wish the U.S. government would figure out the debt ceiling thing. I don't want to dwell on politics, but really people. Wouldn't it be better to figure things out in a manner that will not cause global financial problems, and then fight later about dealing with massive entitlement and other problems that no one has had the courage to face in 50 years? I'm not in favor of kicking the can down the road indefinitely - truly, I'm not. I just can't stand the thought of further economic damage and uncertainty at the moment.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Van Is Back

At 11:00 today I was making chocolate chip oatmeal cookies with Rose #2 and the phone rang. It was a St. Paul police officer calling from West St. Paul, telling me that our van has been found!

I was shaking, literally shaking. The car is in decent condition. The DVD player and subwoofer are gone, the exhaust pipe is gone, the door lights are gone, and there are probably other things wrong with it, but it is drivable. We will have to see if it is fixable or will be totaled; I guess that's our insurance company's call. Oh yes, the plates are gone too. The police officer had to call in to dispatch to let them know that a minivan without plates would be driving back from the place where the car was recovered to our home, so that no one pulled H over. (I didn't want to drive it with Rose #2 and #3 in the car - I wanted to drive the non-formerly-stolen car with license plates home.)

It is very disorienting to know that something that belongs to you was temporarily taken and used by people with bad motives. When the car was recovered it had stolen plates on it; the thieves took off our plates and put on someone else's. Crazy stuff.

I am such a law abiding citizen, even coming in contact with this sort of thing makes me nervous. I am glad that our car is home. Now we're going to have to go about seeing if it is fixable.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hot. My Inner Monologue.

It is really hot here in Minnesota. Everyone knows this. Everyone is writing about it. So I won't write about the weather - instead I will write about my paranoid reaction to it.

One: My car isn't meant to operate in this kind of heat. Really, where do they test cars anyway, to make sure that they can operate when it's 100 degrees outside? I hope they test them in like the Arizona desert. Except that would mean that they haven't factored in the humidity. Which is very high. Is it better to drive with your windows open or closed in this heat? What impact does the air conditioning have on everything? Will the pavement buckle on the way home? Am I contributing more to global warming when I drive with the air conditioning on?

(Are you annoyed yet?)

Two: We are running all the air conditioners at home nearly nonstop. Will the air conditioners last? Will they burn out? Perhaps if they burn out, they will start a small fire? What would happen then?

Three: Is it unhealthy for my children to be outside a lot when it is this hot? (The answer is YES. I heard it on MPR. MPR is always right. (This last is not a joke - I really do think so.)) But it's a huge bummer that they're not getting outdoor time when we only have like 15 minutes of summer in Minnesota. Are they sufficiently hydrated? Do they have enough SPF on them? (The answer to this is yes, of course, our nanny definitely lathers them up with enough SPF. It doesn't mean I can't think about it obsessively though.)

Four: We should go swimming since it's so hot.

Oh wait, no we shouldn't. The municipal pool is a breeding ground for THIEVES. (If you don't believe me, read yesterday's post.)

Five: What should we have for DINNER? Even turning on the microwave oven makes me feel really hot. Heating up the kitchen makes it that much harder for the air conditioners (see, e.g., #2 above) to do their job. Maybe we should just go out to eat. Oh wait, we can't - our credit and debit cards were stolen (see, e.g., #4 above).

Is it any wonder that I'm exhausted with such an inner monologue?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


I've been avoiding posting. Well, duh. Any idiot could have figured that out without me saying so.

We had a trying weekend. Our car and my wallet were stolen. Stolen! From the Highland pool in St. Paul. Unbelievable. We had to do the whole thing where I shut down our credit and debit cards, and we had to close our checking account. We've had that joint checking account for about 15 years, and I am not exaggerating when I say that we pay every. single. bill. from that darn thing. I have been spending a fair amount of my evening time figuring out what bills I pay from that account and setting them up on our new account. No, I will not give the account number to you. Believe me, I hope to never do any of this again.

If you want to feel good and violated, be a fool and leave your wallet and keys unattended at the municipal pool on one of the hottest weekend days of the year. Spend three hours in the pool with your kids. At the end of the afternoon, saunter back over to your stuff and get ready to go. Have an unsettled feeling that you should check your bag for your wallet. Have your husband say, "Um, where are the keys?" and then run out the gate to see if the car is still there. Which it isn't. Then have your 5-year-old sob because the bad guys stole your car. THEN spend 20 minutes on your cell phone cancelling credit cards. Sheesh.

People, never leave your stuff unattended. Just because you wouldn't steal someone's wallet and car keys - and their CAR - doesn't mean that someone at the pool wouldn't do that. Can you imagine taking someone's keys and walking around pressing the "unlock" button, going - I wonder which car we're going to drive home from the pool tonight?