" /> Toads-in-the-Hole: May 2007 Archives

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May 29, 2007

Hands, Feet, and Mouth

Late last week, Joel called me while I was at work and proudly announced, “She’s done it! She finally done it! She pointed to her toes when I said, ‘Where are your toes, Adelaide?’”

Joel had been working on easy anatomy with Adelaide for a couple of months now, every now and again encouraging her to repeat words like toes, tongue, ears, nose, eyes, and belly between her favorite utterances dog, cat, bird, ball, doll, and bike.

After work I came home to a little performance of Adelaide’s newly-created knowledge, and gleefully watched her identify various body parts as Joel rattled off a list of about six or seven. I scooped Adelaide up for a kiss and a hug and noticed a small, blistery-looking, zit-type-thingy under her lower lip.

[Duhn, duhn, duuuuhhnnnn]

We thought maybe it was a zit. Or, maybe a cold sore? Either way, we left it alone and went to bed … And had an awful night sleep, with Adelaide screaming, kicking, tossing and turning all night long.

The next night she had a fever.

The next day she had another zit-cold-sore thingy near her upper lip.

The night after that we slept in a pop-up camper at a Minnesota State Park. And she had another fever.

The following morning, she had another zit-thingy, and we noticed that she had canker-like sores on her tongue and swollen gums.

When we finally got home after our trip to New Ulm, Joel did some research and we narrowed Adelaide’s outbreak culprit down to the highly contagious, incredibly infamous coxsackie virus.

The coxsackie virus produces a well-known viral infection among schoolteachers and day care providers: Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. The infected person breaks out in little, painful pustules all over the palms of their hands, soles of their feet, and in and around their mouths. Eating anything spicy or acidic is like lemon juice on a paper cut, and the pustules can last up to ten days. So far, Adelaide is about five days into her infection, and holding her own. She’s drinking well, and eating a little here and there. She’s really, really irritable and sleeps a lot more than usual.

Good thing rain is in the forecast for this entire week.

May 28, 2007

A Heritage Tour

'Round the Fire

For Memorial Day weekend, we took an abridged vacation to Brown County, Minnesota, meeting up with the Wurzbergers and Killmers at Fort Ridgely State Park. The trip was abridged because Joel had call at the hospital smack in the middle of the weekend, and so we drove up to Minnesota on Sunday morning and drove home again on Monday afternoon. Still, despite the brevity of the visit, we managed to explore ruins from the mid-1800s, buy penny candy at a historical general store, memorialize our grand-parents graveside, get all sticky with s’mores around the campfire, and tour a brewery.

One of the most memorable parts of the trip happened as we all witnessed Adelaide toddle from leg to leg, taking some of her first real steps this weekend. She confidently maneuvered around the campfire, grabbing onto a nearby knee for support and balance and would then take off for the next human pit stop, covering a span of a couple feet at a toddle-run. At our cheers and urgings, she has learned to applaud her efforts by clapping now whenever she attempts to walk.

In between admiring Adelaide and hobo dinners and blueberry pancakes at the campsite, we visited Sleepy Eye and New Ulm.

Charles Schultz based his cartoon character Linus on a fellow cartoonist named Linus who was born in raised in Sleepy Eye, MN

My dad’s paternal grandparents lived in Sleepy Eye – a town memorialized in my mind by Charles Landon as Pa in the Little House on the Prairie television program; wasn’t he always trying to get to Sleepy Eye for supplies or provisions or Christmas presents or something? Sleepy Eye may have been a buzzing junction of prairie life then, but this weekend it was a pretty, quiet, little town with a few fishing boats on the lake and most of the downtown storefronts closed for the holiday.

Looking for relations among early German-American immigrants resting at the Sleepy Eye cemetery

We searched the cemetery for Wurzbergers and Hoffmans, and managed to find my great-grandparents and great-great grandparents in their spots of eternal repose in a tranquil, shady corner of the cemetery.

At Schell's, Adelaide learns to do Cheers!

On Monday, we picnicked in New Ulm and then headed up the bluff to Schell’s Brewery. We learned all about fermentation, hops, and wort on the brewery tour, and then sampled some Schell ales and lagers. Adelaide and Erin enjoyed the 1919 Root Beer while the rest of us indulged in quite a few samples of the local brew.

Look! It's a beer garden!

We strolled the grounds sipping our complimentary beverages, listening to the loud wail of roaming peacocks, searching for signs of life in the all-too-quiet deer park, and imagining ourselves living in August Schell’s formidable mansion at the turn of the last century.

Beware of the peacocks! They're loud!

And then, just like that, our vacation time was spent.

Smelling the flowers ...

May 26, 2007

A Good Friend

If Adelaide could name her friends, we're certain that Gertie would be among her most near and most dear. Gertie and Adelaide know one another from many places around town, but most often they meet in the church basement or at Gertie's house.

But, last Saturday, Gertie came over to Adelaide's house.


Oh, what a thrill it is to enjoy your morning waffles and sausage with a good friend seated at your side!


And truly, nothing is more fantastic than a morning wagon ride - albeit kind of a long one - to the park.

They played and played and played all morning long together ... And had only one disagreement involving an empty travel mug.

A good friend like Gertie is a real treasure.

Welcome Home, Stac!

Adelaide meets Stac (and Leinenkugel's)

Last week, our friend Stac visited us in Vermillion, after finishing a tour of duty in Iraq. We celebrated his homecoming with lots and lots of beer.

Late night cheers at Open Mike's (Adelaide is supposed to be asleep)

May 18, 2007

Adelaide et Rex Grossman

Our aforementioned friends, Brooke and Seeger, have welcomed a small, energetic puppy into their home, and during our stay with them in Omaha we had an opportunity to get up close and personal with Rex Grossman.


Rex and Adelaide seemed to especially hit it off, playing games of "I'll scratch your face, now you scratch mine!" and "Let me feed you an entire bowl of Chex mix!" and "Last one to reach the kong is a sucker!"


Adelaide's first real word was "dog," uttered clearly and intentionally at the tender age of 11 months while patting her Grandma Molly and Grandpa Doug's dog, Taffy. Since that time, she often excitedly signs or says "dog" when she encounters any four-legged mammal with fur that is not a cat. She furiously points and pats her hand on her chest (the sign for dog) and shouts, "Dog! Dog!" She knows that dogs come in all shapes and sizes, so why then, is a squirrel not a dog? Suffice to say, Adelaide's talk is often of dogs, and so to meet Rex was like a dream come true. Adelaide even left Rex a sweet gift in thanks for his generous hosting of our stay, her pacifier.


Lately at night, while she peacefully slumbers, we'll look over to see her smiling and patting her hand to her chest, no doubt dreaming of Rex Grossman.

Adelaide au Zoo

Last weekend, we drove down to Omaha to visit our friends Brooke and Seeger and to visit the world-famous Henry Doorly Zoo.

We weren’t quite sure what to expect from our zoo experience as we unloaded our packed car with all of our baby essentials: jogger stroller, auxiliary diapers, Goldfish, sunscreen, and our trusty water bottle. Looking around the packed parking lot, we noted all of the other families, lugging, carrying, pushing, and chasing kids of varying ages toward the long line at the entrance. We put one foot in front of the other and stepped into the sweating, screaming throng of animal excitement.


Fortified after a pleasant hillside picnic, we began our adventure, weaving the jogger in and out of crowds, buckling and unbuckling Adelaide so she could get a better view of the sunbear or the hippos, and wishing that we had taken the time to learn some signs to better describe the animals to Adelaide. Still, Adelaide did not seem to mind the chaos of the day, seeming nonplussed at the pacing Indochine tiger or shrugging at the panting polar bears, but viewing the animals with a certain sort of laissez-faire … As if to say, “Ah, yes, Gorilla gorilla gorilla … Well, there’s that then.”


May 6, 2007

Old Age Arrives

A week ago I was on call in the hospital. Nothing much was going on so I flipped on the television (you remember, the one that was stuck on the SciFi channel) and suddenly felt like a very old man.

A little background: When I was eleven years old, my favorite band was the Violent Femmes. My older brother had some of their songs, and everything I knew about pop music I learned from listening to his ghetto blaster through the thin walls of our adjacent rooms. I'm not sure that he was such a huge Femmes fan, but their music had a huge appeal for me. Their tunes were catchy and their lyrics were full of the kind of sweaty and desperate yearnings that already ran constantly through my head. I saved my pennies and bought their self-titled tape at Sound Station 7, the record store in our mall (just talking about an independent record store is an indication of how elderly I am). I soon had all their albums and two Violent Femmes t-shirts, which I would wear to school as often as three times per week, which did little for my popularity in the jock-ocracy of Brookings Middle School. When my friend Nate moved to town, I force-fed him Femmes until he came to accept them (He, in turn, exposed me to the desperate yearnings of The Smiths. In retrospect, I got much the better deal.) and on the rare occasions one of the Femmes' songs was played at a school dance, we rushed out to the floor and cleared a wide area in which to effectively spaz out.

So, I don't listen to the Femmes much any more, but when I turned on the TV I immediately recognized the guitar line from their biggest hit, "Blister in the Sun." I instinctively smiled, then grimaced. The music was providing the jingle for Wendy's new Steakhouse Double Melt, (which, if you manage to surmount it's half-pound magnificence, provides you with 740 calories and 40% of your USRDA of iron). Suddenly my back twinged and I squinted at the television as my vision blurred. I heard several quiet tic-tac-tics as most of my teeth fell out from my rapidly receding gums and bounced across the tile floor. The voice describing the virtues of the Steakhouse Double Melt became muffled as great tufts of slate-grey hair sprouted from my ears. Many elderly people make wistful comments like "I don't know where the years went," or "I woke up one day and suddenly I was an old man." I know just how they feel- one second I was a hearty 29-year-old man, the next, a creaking, hoary old goat, my youth sold down the river.

Perhaps I exaggerate a little, but it was a real shock, almost a visceral blow to hear the anthem of my adolescence appropriated to sell mammoth fast food sandwiches. This was worse than realizing that the original Star Wars movies weren't that good, worse even than having U2 described as Classic Rock. I felt old because this let down gave me the sort of hollow feeling that I associate with people whose cultural foundation has passed from the status of art to commerce. I felt like an aged hippy, uselessly gnashing my few remaining teeth at the vagaries of our consumerist culture.

A very short internet search found a column by Andy Tarnoff, cofounder of and writer for OnMilwaukee.com (the Femmes' got their start in the brief 80s Milwaukee renaissance), in which he publishes this message from Femmes' bassist Brian Ritchie (Gordon Gano is the Femmes' lead singer):

For the fans who rightfully are complaining about the Wendy's burger advertisement
featuring Blister in the Sun, Gordon Gano is the publisher of the song and Warners is the record company. When they agree to use it there's nothing the rest of the band can do about it, because we don't own the song or the recording. That's showbiz. Therefore when you see dubious or in this case disgusting uses of our music you can thank the greed, insensitivity and poor taste of Gordon Gano, it is his karma that he lost his songwriting ability many years ago, probably due to his own lack of self-respect as his willingness to prostitute our songs demonstrates. Neither Gordon (vegetarian) nor me (gourmet) eat garbage like Wendy's burgers. I can't endorse them because I disagree with corporate food on culinary, political, health, economic and environmental grounds. However I see my life's work trivialized at the hands of my business partner over and over again, although I have raised my objections numerous times. As disgusted as you are I am more so.

As Mr. Tarnoff points out, the Violent Femmes are still touring (their next stop is the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT, but they're also playing such prestigious spots as the Red Rocks in Colorado), so after reading Mr. Ritchie's opinion of Mr. Gano, what will it be like to see them onstage together, tearing through their greatest hits? And will "Blister in the Sun" make everybody's mouths water?

As we put away our childish things, aren't we supposed to accrue wisdom? So perhaps there is a lesson to be learned, here. Maybe I'll be more reticent with my future pop culture enthusiasms or less dismayed when my other childhood heroes sell out. In the meantime, maybe I ought to go get a physical, I have a suspicion that my prostate has suddenly doubled in size.