While Upnorth (I'm adopting this as one word not unlike how Newyorkers might say Upstate), we found this awesome beaver dam while on a hike! The beavers had, incredibly, created an entire pond that, apparently, wasn't there before. You could see signs for blue diamond cross-country ski trails nailed to trees that were flooded by the water. Here's a picture of the den from a different perspective. The above picture was what I will call in front and below it, while the below picture was above and, sort of, behind it.
Here's the den. There was beaver scat everywhere which we couldn't help but pick at with sticks only to find bones, bugs and all other sorts of goodies that had been through the beaver's digestive system. Big and Nine were enthralled.
As a souvenir we took a particularly gnawed-on trunk that must weigh at least eight pounds. You can see from this picture that it was gnawed on at both ends AND in the middle. Big carried it in to school today for show-and-tell!
I'm sure I always had food rules, but they have certainly manifested themselves with kids around.
Like when it is 8:30 a.m. and they want a candy bar?
Or when they want their fourth bowl of cereal or sixth plate of spaghetti?
For me, food usually falls into one of two categories. It is either a) a means to an end: my stomach is yelling at me so I put something in there to quiet it down or I am wanting to go on a long bike ride and need energy or b) it is an event: Coffee over a book looking out a window, homemade blueberry pie on vacation, or a cheese-filled burger at the local Jucy-Lucy joint.
We were lucky enough this weekend to be able to head up to Ely (pron: "elee" for all of you non-Minnesotans) again for a long weekend at Camp Du Nord.
As was the case last summer, it was so incredibly peaceful and connecting and spiritual to be able to get away that far north, to focus on each other and to enjoy nature. The camp is located on an incredible lake (Burnside) to its east and amazing hiking and skiing trails to its west, all along the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
I was completely regretting our reservations on Thursday, the day we made the 4.5 hour trek to the Northland because I had traveled to and from the SOUTHERN part of the state that very day, and the kids both had colds.
On the way up, Big sneezed into his arm and exclaimed "I have some bless-you on my shirt!!"
Once we were there, though, I remembered why we had done it. There is just something about taking time away from your home and your regularly scheduled activities that creates a space to open up, relax, and focus.
It's not just that though. The camp surrounds you with like-minded-people who are there to do the same, and that shared experience creates something bigger than the sum of its parts.
The camp also inadvertently teaches the kids values that we just can't do all on our own. The camp is run by an incredibly committed staff that go out of their way to make your stay special, and we found out on the last day that, due to budgetary reasons, they volunteered their time for the entire weekend.
It was amazing to tell Nine this after she had kvetched her way through the end-of-weekend cleanup process at which she balked at doing the recycling, earning her the job of cleaning up the bathroom as well, which she clearly thought that she was above.
There is always time to teach humility, and if we can't do it, life certainly will.
This morning Nine and I were enjoying our breakfast at Starbucks before school when we met a plant geneticist.
I love meeting interesting people, so we started talking. He was passionate about potatoes and explained that he does for potatoes what other geneticists do for apples in creating the lovely varieties that we all enjoy like Honeycrisp.
I asked him what the potato equivalent to the Honeycrisp was, and he ran out to his truck and brought in a bag of P1995_R18 (or some such reference number) potatoes which he subsequently cut open to show me the beautiful red outside and combined yellow inside which he reported was high in vitamins C and A as well as potassium.
Then he gave me the whole bag!
I then had to inform him that I would be talking about potatoes in my ECO308 class this week as the classic example of the so-called Giffen Good!
If you'd like a free potato or two, stop by the econ office.
If they are a true Giffen good, I suspect people will demand fewer of them as the price falls to zero.
Here is an interesting graph about support for gay marriage by age and state via Taggert over at A Random Walk. The age relationship is obvious, particularly to those of us who interact with the (ahem) younger crowd (as in: You're gay? So what?) but I'd like to see how the authors ordered the states. Obviously it moves from liberal to conservative at some level, but by what measure?