We have grandchickens!

One of the great joys of parenthood is being lucky enough to be around to see your children have young ones of their own. I experienced that recently and it was quite an emotional day. The fact that Emily and Kyle’s new arrivals aren’t human did nothing to diminish the exhilaration I felt when meeting them for the first time.

Lady Gaga, City Girl and Chicky Baby were born on April 5th, so they were already a little over a month old by the time we saw them. Emily described their arrival in her blog, “Love from Minnesota”. Here are a couple of photos shot by proud Papa Kyle during their first few days.

Left to Right, Chicky Baby, City Girl, Lady Gaga (photo by Kyle Cedermark)


Chicky Baby and City Girl try on Emily's shoes (photo by Kyle Cedermark)

Lady Gaga is a Silver-Laced Wyandotte, City Girl is an Americana and Chicky Baby (remember PeeWee’s Playhouse?) is a Buff Orpington. When we visited them in Rochester a week ago, they seemed to be getting along well, although Emily says they each has a distinct personality. Here’s what they look like now.

All the single ladies. The girls like to stick together (photo by Steve Date)

Emily and Kyle are great parents. They’re nurturing, but want the kids to grow up and learn to fly on their own. Dad takes the flying a bit too literally, however.

City Girl looked good on take-off, but the next few seconds were not impressive. (photo by Steve Date)

Of course the girls aren’t our first grandanimals. Peet’s been around for 3 years now. At 21 dog years, he’s a mature, loving big brother.

Peet gives Chicky Baby a little brotherly peck. (photo by Steve Date)


Peet gives lil' sis Lady Gaga a pony ride. What a good brother. (photo by Steve Date)

They’ll be old enough to start laying in a few months. Can’t wait to have my first grandchicken omelet.

Wait a second — that’s a little creepy, isn’t it? But if the eggs aren’t fertilized, they’re not really potential great-grandchicks, right? Oh well, I’ll figure that out later.

"Who's my pretty girl?"


"Say Mama -- MA . . . MA"

An ice Christmas is a nice Christmas

A while back, when we all used to all try to get together for Christmas, one person announced that his family wouldn’t be attending any more because they were “starting their own tradition”. At the time, I thought “what a jerk — you can’t even drive a couple of miles and spend an hour or two with the rest of us?” I actually pretty much still think that, but his statement did get me thinking. You can start a tradition? Very cool. I hadn’t realized that. Now, a few years later, I’ve come to embrace his philosophy.

Rochester, Minnesota is having an ice Christmas this year


This time of year is rough for a lot of people. Sometimes it has to do with things either not being the “way they used to be” or not being the way they “should be”. If a lot of energy is put into wanting a holiday to play out exactly the same way each year, or to match some mythical standard of a perfect Christmas of our youth, it’s a set-up for disappointment. First of all the math doesn’t work. Over the years there will be people added and people subtracted from the equation. Then there’s the issue of morphing, evolving families. Kids grow up and have in-laws. People can’t be in two places at one time, even when both sets of parents live in the same town. Add in a divorce here, separation there and you’ve got a recipe for unhappiness — unless your “traditions” have some flexibility.

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Since our daughter Emily married Kyle a little before Christmas last year, the tradition landscape has changed at our house. Kyle’s family lives 1200 miles away, so it’s probably going to be different every year. E & K were flying to the east coast a couple of evenings ago, so Emily invited us to have Christmas at their house in Rochester during the day before their flight left. I know that families do this kind of thing all the time, but this was a first for us — and you know what? It was pretty nice.

The day even included a miracle. When I was dispatched to the grocery store for a missing hot pepper, I saw something I thought I’d never see. Driving in front of me down Civic Center Drive in Rochester was a copy of the first NEW car I ever owned — a Dodge Omni! We bought one of the first ones the year they came out — 1978. I had only owned old beaters before that and this little $2,500 beauty was a dream come true.

I'm dreaming of a Dodge Omni. Just like the one I used to own . . . Ours was gray, but this sighting in Rochester sure brought back some memories

. . . . and the winner is -- this handsome 15-foot kid-destoyer in Rochester. Makes for an ice Christmas indeed.

After a few years, the car turned out to be a piece of crap, but it was my first new-car feeling and I still remember the day we bought it. I hadn’t seen one on the road for at least a dozen years and thought I’d never see one again — until this December 23rd miracle.

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Still reeling from the Omni sighting, I took an icicle-viewing walk with Lauren through Emily’s neighborhood. We had seen some impressive stalactites on the way into town and wanted to capture some of them with our cameras.

Then Kyle came home from work at noon and it was time for the Christmas lunch. Sandy had brought a delicious tomatillo chicken soup and Emily made tacos al pastor that were equally tasty.

Emily was enjoying the meal -- finger gesture directed at the photographer notwithstanding.


We opened gifts. Peet enjoyed his very much. I think he’s solidly on board with celebrating Christmas.

Two Jersey boys have now adopted Minnesota sports teams.


Soon it was time to take the “Datermarks” to the airport. It made me very happy that they would be able to spend Christmas with Kyle’s family. Kyle’s parents and brothers have hardly seen him since he and Emily moved to Minnesota six months ago. It’s tough (and will continue to be) for them to have Kyle so far away and I hope they can at least have a lot of holiday family gatherings during the years they live in Minnesota as well as a few other visits now and then.

Emily and Kyle do their best to deal with the holiday rush to check in at the Rochester airport. They landed safely in Scranton later that night for their Christmas in the Poconos.


So we still have Lauren and Peet. Who could ask for more than that?

Visions of sugar plums -- Lauren tells Peet that Santa's coming soon.


On Christmas Eve the three of us (Peet had a little down time) went to see True Grit and then had a very nice dinner at a Thai restaurant. This afternoon we’re doing the second go-round of a tradition we started last year — going bowling with the Powells, who are our neighbors and good friends (and happen to be Jewish). Now that’s one Christmas tradition I’d like to see continue.

This was taken on Christmas day last year. Here' a fun activity for you. See if you can pick out the Jews!


So that’s how we’re celebrating this year. It’s very nice and I’m extremely thankful for it. One of the things I like most about Christmas is that it’s different every year.

Peet wishes you all the best in this holiday season!


Whatever you’re doing today, I hope your day is merry and bright. I hope your traditions are happy, light-hearted and flexible — and don’t be afraid to start a new one.

Merry Christmas!

Two breakfasts, a walk with my daughters and my first game at Target Field — maybe yesterday is what heaven is like?

Yesterday was one of those rare days when you know it’s going to be a good one, then you just let it play out and enjoy every minute.

Lauren flew in from Chicago on Wednesday evening. She went down to visit Emily in Rochester on Thursday and stayed overnight. I drove down to bring her back to Minneapolis yesterday morning. So began my great day.

Breakfast #1 at Little Oscar's in Hampton

Little Oscar’s, a roadside diner in Hampton was brought to my attention by Kyle after it was recommended to him by “Uncle Mike” Dervos. Known for their great breakfasts — and especially their bacon — I decided to leave home early and give it a try. I liked it a lot. The bacon WAS fantastic. I like to eat breakfast out but don’t do it often. I also love the 60s-style angular, clean-lined architecture of the place (see also Target Field later in this post) and the way the owner walks around and chats with the regulars.

With a healthy dose of cholesterol coursing through my veins and a fully caffeinated nervous system, it was off to Rochester.

I arrived at Emily’s house 45 minutes later to find that she and Lauren had just baked scones.

Breakfast #2: Fresh, home made scones, fresh coffee poured by Emily. Life is good -- very good.

Well, the scones were amazing — and I mean that — I’d never had one that light, fluffy and melty-in-your-mouthishly good.

Lauren snaps a photo of her father, who is in a state of bliss.

Soon, Peet was ready for a walk and Emily suggested we go to Quarry Hill Park. It’s about a mile away, down a path that follows the railroad track. The park was an an unexpected delight — overgrown remnants of the old limestone quarry, large fields of prairie grass and wildflowers, no one but us in sight — a beautiful nature preserve right next to a residential area and state psychiatric hospital with a scary-looking prison fence around it.

Peet, Emily and Lauren amid the prairie grasses in Quarry Hill Park

There are old caves in the limestone that were once used as natural refrigeration “for the produced raised, stored and eaten by patients residing at the State Hospital”, according to one of the signs.

Peet guards the entrance to one of the old caves


The Date girls take the road less traveled

In the evening, Lauren and I went to our first Twins game at the new ball park, Target Field. I’ve been waiting all summer — waiting for years, really — for this.

Lauren and I had this same thought at the same time. Here's a scene that we would never have dreamed of 10 years ago -- fans flocking to see the Twins play outdoors at a downtown ballpark with a light rail train going past. Chalk a couple up for Minneapolis for getting these things right.

Lauren has been a big Twins fan for most of her life, going back to the glory years of ’87 to ’91, when they won two World Series. It’s been more difficult for her to cheer for them while living in Chicago for the past 3 years, but the new Target Field and a current team with some talented and likable players have rejuvenated her enthusiasm.

Lauren enters the stadium wearing her Kirby Puckett t-shirt at Gate 34, which is numbered in honor of her favorite player of the '80s.

Lauren's polish sausage with onions from Kramarczuk's just prior to gametime. OK, now I KNOW I'm in heaven.

The Twins won, 5-3 — just as they should. Jim Thome hit a home run right in front of us that just cleared the flower bed by the left field foul pole (you gotta love this place) — just as he should. As the sky grew dark, we could feel a gentle summer breeze as it ruffled the flags in right field a just a bit.

Just as it should.

And the day played out just as I had hoped it would.

Target Field -- gorgeous ending to a beautiful day.

It’s nice having Emily back in Minnesota

On graduation day in 1999, Emily received a letter from the University of Virginia saying that she had been accepted from their wait list. It was one of those life-changing moments. UVA had been her top choice and we were all thrilled that she would be going to such a beautiful, prestigious college in a wonderful part of the country. I knew I’d miss having her around for the next four years, but any misgivings about that were entirely blown away by the fact that she was going to be able to have a life experience such as this.

Emily and Peet show me their secret cave in Whitewater State Park

She did come back to Minneapolis for a short time after college and had an apartment in northeast Minneapolis, but then went on to be a teacher in New York for the past five years. Now she’s back, living in Rochester — new husband, great dog, new house, new life. She’s happy — and I’m liking it a lot. Last Friday I drove down to help her do some work around the house. We didn’t get much accomplished, but it turned out to be a great trip. She decided that since they were planning to come up on Sunday anyway and Kyle had to work Saturday, she and Peet would ride back with me and spend the weekend.

Emily and Peet looking down at the swimming beach at Whitewater

We had a nice lunch together on a patio in downtown Rochester. Then we stopped at Whitewater State Park on the way to Minneapolis for a little hike. It was beautiful — the scenery, the conversation, the time together. I’ll never forget that day, because it was at that park that I really realized how nice it’s going to be to have these kinds of opportunities after 11 years. Kyle’s residency is four years and I know there’s a good chance they’ll move away again after that, but I’m going to cherish these times and never forget how lucky I am to have Emily, Kyle and Peet in my life for a while.

Peet and I went for a walk at Lake Harriet on Saturday. He seems to like Minnesota.

Minnesota’s Newest Immigrants

The stoic Datermark family begins a new life on the frontier.


Emily, Kyle and Peet (the Datermarks) arrived in Rochester, Minnesota on Wednesday last. Much like the Joad family of “The Grapes of Wrath”, they came with only what they could fit into and onto their car. The newlyweds from New Jersey have bravely embarked on a new life on the Minnesota prairie. After a long day on the road traversing the Appalachians and the eastern midwest, they spent two nights in Chicago, thankful for the shelter and sustenance provide by the Dervos family and glad to spend time with sister Lauren.

Emily gets rid of the old to make way for the new.


But seriously, they’ve bought a great house. Mrs. D and I spent Thursday and Friday down there, helping a bit with the beginning of the transformation process. It mostly just needs cosmetic work on the walls and floors, though, so it’s going to look great soon.

First coat of the new colors in the dining room


We’ve seen them four days in a row now, which feels kind of strange. It’s great to have them only 84 miles away, after so many years of Emily living in the east. I know it’s hard for Kyle’s family to have him so far away, but I hope they can visit often.

First lunch at the homestead, using pretty much all the furniture they have right now. The rest of their stuff is in a moving van somewhere. Nobody knows yet when it will arrive.

Kyle begins his residency at the Mayo Clinic tomorrow morning. This is very exciting, not only for the two of them, but for all of us in both families as well. Good luck to Minnesota’s newest residents! We’re so proud of you.

To see more photos of the new house, go to my Flickr page here.

Peet and the goose welcome visitors to the House of Datermark.

Datermarks Gather in Minnesota

It’s been a busy week here in Lake Wobegon.  Emily and Kyle found out a couple of weeks ago that they’ll be moving to Rochester because Kyle will be doing his residency at the Mayo Clinic.   Emily came home to Minneapolis for spring break. After visiting Lauren in Chicago last weekend, we looked at houses to buy in Rochester on Tuesday.

Kyle, Peggy and Bert flew in on Friday morning to join the house-hunting.  We had a very nice weekend together.

E & K found a couple of houses they liked and decided to make an offer on one of them.   It will be presented to the sellers tomorrow (Monday) so we’ve all got our fingers crossed.

Stay tuned!

Also, I’ve  started a project that I’ve been thinking about for a long time — Photo of the Day.  I want to shoot at least one photo each day for as long as I can make it. I started on my birthday, so it fits nicely with the “58th Year” theme.  Here’s the website for that http://web.mac.com/stevendate/Site_6/Welcome.html

Sandy, Bert, Emily, Kyle, Peggy, Steve -- many of the Datermarks!