Jun 29, 2013

Beaver Paddle

Floated the $149 Menards kayak down Beaver Creek last evening.  5 mile paddle hooking to the Des Moines river, with a mile portage through the woods towards home.  Mountain biked back to the car in the black of night, sucked a hard shell Junebug down my air hole.

Based on the color and ragged edges of my boat, I'm guessing it was molded from recycled Tide jugs.

Click the sun for 90 seconds of GoPro:

Wish I could do the Boundary Waters.


Jun 22, 2013

Game of Life

Here's mosh pit of updates on topics we've sampled before.

Summer Tan
I was feeling a little dispirited about dropping my daughter off at the school gym for another summer of $700 a month feces flinging.  Kids should spend the hot days drinking lemonade and lapping the pool. 

Readers offered dozens of ideas in the comments for a fun summer.  We were ready to try a camp or nanny when the neighbor girl casually announced one evening while I was out trimming my bushes:

"You know that my mom is going to watch her this summer, right?"   

I had the bewildered "shut the front door" look and dropped my hedge shears.

American Girl and Hospice

Pigtails headed up to the Twin Cities recently with her mom, mom's boyfriend and Aunt Angie (mom's sister) for a week of indulging in American Girl Dolls and other hooligan activities.

They arrived in Minneapolis on Monday.  By Tuesday, her mom's healthy soured quickly.  She was losing the ability to move her right side, and she couldn't see.  Angie called hospice to help at the hotel.  Her mom wasn't able to get out of the room, but Pigtails and Aunt had a good time on her birthday at the American Girl store.  She's 11 now, you know.

As the week progressed and her mom wasn't improving, Pigtails asked Aunt some hard questions.  This one was painful:

"Aunt Ee Ee, will my mom die when I'm 11 or 12?"

"Well, we don't know when, but it could be when you are 11."

She buried her head in Angie and bawled.

No kid should have to ask that question.  No 37-year-old mother should have to go through this. Pigtails continues with that sweet demeanor.  Except in the mornings, then her eyeballs fire hot lasers.

A decision was made on the Twin Cities trip that her mom would not return to Des Moines.  Instead, she moved into hospice in Ottumwa to be closer to her parents.  It's 90 minutes from DSM, we drove halfway there this morning to meet grandma so Pigtails can be with mom this weekend.  Grandma said there isn't a lot of time left for her mom to be able to communicate and stay awake.  

We're keeping the summer open so she can visit on weekends and ad hoc when needed.  I share this stuff with strangers on the blog, but most of the people I'm around at work every day have no idea what's going on.


Jun 15, 2013

Prairie Pow Wow

Every other Sunday afternoon, we hang out with Quincy for a couple hours.  We wanted to try something new, I'd heard good things about Prairie City's 5,600 acre Neal Smith Wildlife Refuge.  Starving, what a coinky-dink the prairie happens to be in the same town as Goldie's.  Fill 'er up on tenderloins and shakes, Q wanted milk.

my cholesterol shrank from 255 to 205 this year, thank you very much

 They chalked their mark on the way out, notice how she signed.

WWYD - Front or Top Loader?

My washer and dryer have arthritis so I'm looking for a new set.  The old washer is a front loader and I've been happy with it.  Front sips less water and holds more junk per batch than a high efficiency top loader.

Several of the Facebook folks are rooting for a top loader.  Other than a higher upfront cost and musty smells if you don't keep the door open to dry out, I don't see any negatives to a fronter.



Jun 9, 2013

B&P Bento Box

What happens when you toss together my favorite local coffee, tea, candy and spices?

The B&P Bento Box!

I'm doing a limited run of the best that Des Moines puts out. The plan is to unload these puppies and get your feedback on what you like and how we can improve the set.  If there's additional interest after the first batch sells, I'll box a second helping so you readers can taste what I nibble on and write about.

Beaver 'Mallows

You've visited our 'hood.  Now I'll let you in on where we sneak sweets when no one's looking.

Beaverdale Confections is a local small business serving all manner of handmade treats.  Sea salt chocolate and butter fudge for mom and dad, peppermint sticks, jawbreakers and jellies for the brats.  The one-room shop sits a block from her school, I wonder if this is where Pigtails' lunch money is laundered.  Was that ketchup or a lollipop mustache staining her face when I picked her up from school last week?

Without a doubt, the #1 treat people return for is the gourmet marshmallow.

Jun 7, 2013


I live in Beaverdale, an old school suburb nestled in the northwest corner of Des Moines.  Born in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, it's made of tidy 1.5 story homes, stacked by red bricks kilned in a mason factory a few blocks behind my house. Century hard oaks soften the sun, a grassy median divides the main boulevard and pink peonies sweeten up the spring.

The original plan was to stay put for 5 years, pop out Pigtails, then sell and move out to a newer home to expand the family.  That was 15 years ago.  We're still here.

Jun 6, 2013

Beantown - 7, Smelly Finish and Feed My Face

Here's the last chapter of our Boston Marathon recap from a few years ago.  Finish it.

Beard:  A wet chill hovered, gripped my sweaty clothes and forced the shivers.  It was important to grab my bag and change into dry clothes pronto.  I’d tucked my bag inside of Curls' at the start, as it had ripped wide open and I was afraid my junk would fall out and disappear. The bags were numbered according to our race number, so I headed to the bus that held Curls’ bag. A lady on the bus looked me over and at my number and said, in that accent, “Son, whatcha doooin’ here, yaw bus it down a-that-away?”

Exhaustion and deep shivering made it difficult to articulate that my bag was tucked inside of Curls’. This confounded her, it was as if I had asked her to solve a complex riddle while splitting an atom. She finally understood what was needed, and began rummaging through the groups of bags like a black bear into a sack of Twinkies left inside a tent at Yellow Stone Park. Plastic bags were flyin’ all over in the bus, two of the Bostonian gals were shouting back and forth, an expletive slipped, the missing bag (or maybe they were referring to me ) was coined with a name that rhymes with mother shucker.

Jun 2, 2013

Loose Ends

Time to polish off a few loose ends that need tended to.  

Little Brother
I scribbled a post at work for National Volunteer Week, sharing the great experience we've had with Quincy through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Iowa.  Mentioned the drive to raise money for Q's cochlear implant upgrade.  A few people at work emailed and said they'd contribute hundreds of bucks to help.  Someone else asked how close are we to goal.  I checked with his mom two weeks ago, the account was at $6,000.  $18,000 will buy a new pair, she said if they trade in the old processors the cost comes down to $10,000.  So $4K to go.


Glioblastoma is the most aggressive of malignant brain tumors, Pigtail's mom was diagnosed in 2007.  Treatment and remission for years, then it came back late last year.  More flasks of chemo, but no go.  Her latest MRI was in bad shape, the tumors are ignoring treatment.  Her speech has degraded significantly over the last two months, to the point where a simple conversation on the phone discussing a weekend handoff crawls and takes 10 minutes.

Earrings - Dad Caved

At first, she fragged me for days with:  "Dad, can we, dad, dad, ears dad, when?"

I put the kabosh on that, she was a good girl and left me alone for 10 minutes.

She turns 11 this month, I'd always had age 12 on my mind as the right time to pierce them puppies.  But I eventually softened and had a change of heart.  Pigtails will be with her mom for a week of vacation during her birthday, so last night, I surprised daughter and said, "Let's go get your ears pierced!"

She didn't believe me.
Then she squealed.
Bit her nails at the thought of a needle through her lobes.
Then she hugged my neck and yelped "THANKS DADDY!"