And how fast they are growing up

Another post to help me out of my funk. Just can’t seem to sit down and write anything new without letting my feelings take over. When I first thought of writing a blog, I made a promise to myself that it should entertain, amuse, and above all, not let it become political and preachy. But damn it, it is getting harder and harder to hold to my original premise.

So, like I did with my last post, Coffee with Ali, I will post somethings I wrote before, things that bring me comfort and warm memories.

None of these have appeared before in my blog; but rather, they were published in the Bulletin Board section of the St. Paul newspaper over the years, published under my alter ego, the Old Hand.


I was sitting by the glass doors watching as the wind played with the tree cotton. My five year old granddaughter, Jada, came and stood by me. “Look at all the dandelion fuzz, Papa,” she said. The she softly added, “Somebody must have made a wish.”

Pub 5/26/2012

One of the birthday presents our 7 year old granddaughter, Jayda, received was a $15 gift card.

The other day, her mother took Jayda and her two younger sisters to the store so Jayda could buy something with her gift card. Jayda knew how she wanted to spend the card, but had kept it a secret.

She took her time, trying to find something that she would not only like, but would fit in with her plan. Finally, she found the perfect thing, a pair of ‘Princess’ sandals for $5. She figured out that the $15 would not only buy her a pair, but would also buy a pair for each of her sisters. Her gift card may be depleted but all three girls enjoy Jada’s birthday present.

Pub 9/10/13

Outside of having her bangs trimmed, Jayda, our almost-eight year old granddaughter, has never had a hair cut. She wanted it to grow long so she could donate it to LOCKS OF LOVE, who make wigs for cancer victims. Today she had her hair cut and made the donation.
Such a sweet caring child.

Pub 7/25/14


My wife took her two hibiscus plants into the house early last fall. She kept them alive and well in the family room, patiently waiting for the warm weather so she bring them back outside.

The other day she went to the family room and found that our granddaughter, Jena, had taken all the leaves off of both plants and had them stacked in piles on the bench. Naturally my wife was upset and wanted to know why Jena had done such a thing. Jena just bowed her head and refused to explain her actions.

Then, her older sister, Jada, spoke up in Jena’s defense. In one of their Land Before Time videos, Grandfather Dinosaur is very sick. Littlefoot and his friends go to a forest where a certain tree grows. They pluck the leaves from the tree and bring them to Grandfather, who eats them and becomes well again.

Jena was worried because I was in bed feeling very poorly, and she was going to bring me the leaves so I wouldn’t be sick anymore. Thanks to my little nurse, I felt like a new man, and I didn’t even have to eat the leaves.

Pub 4/25/12


I just got a lesson in horticulture handed to me by Jaycee, our 4 year old granddaughter. I looked out the window and saw that the daffodils in the field were in full bloom.

‘Come and look at all the pretty yellow daffodils, Jaycee.’ She dragged over a kitchen stool so she could see out the window. ‘Aren’t those daffodils beautiful,’ I asked?

‘Yes,’ she agreed with me, ‘But Poppa, most people call yellow flowers dandelions.’

Pub 4/24/14

I got another lesson in nature study from our 4 year old granddaughter, Jaycee. I watched a white heron glide over the trees and land on the far edge of the pond.

‘Jaycee, come here and look. See over there, there’s a white heron.’

She looked and looked and finally saw it ‘That’s a goose, Grandpa.’

‘No. It’s a big white heron.’

‘It’s a goose, Grandpa! A big white goose.!’

‘Okay, it’s a big white goose – named Heron.’

She let out a great sigh. ‘Grandpa,’ she said extending her arms, palms turned upward. ‘Gooses don’t got names.’

Pub 5/10/14

I see babies cry, I watch them grow

They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know

And I say to myself, what a wonderful world

Yes I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

A lot or prayers, a lot of hard work, lot of hope, and may we have a world, a wonderful world to leave to those who will pick up where we left off…Stay positive. Stay safe.




Loyce's Nutcracker            December in the Twin Cities brings cold and snow and NUTCRACKERS. There are probably ten or more different companies doing their version of the NUTCRACKER every December. They range from touring Russian companies doing a strict classical version to a wild version by professional dancers and children from the Park Board, featuring among other things, Clockwork Orange roller-skating droogs that slingshot bean bags during the ‘war’.

My favorite NUTCRACKER is Loyce Holton’s, which is celebrating it’s 50th year. (Also it marked the 20th year since the death of that wonderful, talented lady. Luckily, Loyce’s talented daughter Lise has carried on the tradition.)  And of those 50 seasons, I was involved, either working it all the way through the season or at least working the setup and or tear down, in 40 of them.

And it is the favorite of the Twin Cities also. It’s performances are cut back now; but at one time, they ran almost the entire month. One year we did 29 performances at Northrop. Northrop seated 4,822 and during those 29 performances there was a seat in each seat.

Each year I found it as fresh and exciting as ever. So many fond memories, the Houlton family, (now with the third generation dancing), the dance company, and of the wonderful children who performed as mice and toys – one of whom was the memorable Michaud the Mischievous.

There wasn’t a performance go by that this little lad didn’t do something to add to his legend: whether it was absconding with all the candy, dish and all, that we stagehands had set out for all the little ones, or starting a fire in a waste basket, or getting caught out on a window ledge trying to peek into a girls’ dressing room. He was a caution! And then there was the day…

It was Half Hour, the time when the cast gets into costume and the crew finishes the preset for the top of the show. The orchestra conductor was relaxing in a folding chair situated about five feet in front of the mouth of the prop cannon. A quiet time.

No one saw Michaud sneak on stage. I just happen to look over just as the imp shot off the cannon. The conductor jumped about four feet in the air. Through the puff of smoke, I could see the shocked expression on Michaud’s face, and then he turned and high-tailed it off the stage.

The poor maestro was standing, bent slightly at the waist, pressing his hands against his ears, trying to reassure us that he was all right. His hair was blown forward. The back of his head and tux was covered with gray pyro dust. In short, he resembled Wile E. Coyote at the end of the cartoon. Luckily, his ears stopped ringing sometimes during the first act. After that, Michaud was assigned a permanent guard for the duration of the run.

The next season, everyone breathed a little easier when we were told that Michaud had decided not to pursue a career in ballet. Sometimes I wonder whatever became of Michaud, but I really don’t want to know.

While I enjoy my retirement, there are times when I wish I was back working. Whenever I see the ads for Loyce Holton’s NUCRACKER is one of those times. So many fond memories.

And seeing as how the month of December is coming to an end, I would like to wish all my friends a Happy New Year.