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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Drew's 2014 Christmas Letter

 
I really hate to start off this year’s Christmas letter with bad news, but due its magnitude, I simply must. Even now, as I attempt to write this letter, I can feel my blood run cold and my hands begin to tremble.  But after countless hours of therapy, I now understand that the first step to healing is to talk about it with the people you love and trust. So to all of you, my family, friends and loved ones, I confide in you this most horrid news with the hopes that you can help me to regain my trust in humanity. Brace yourself now. My Christmas list has been hacked.

At first glance, it appeared as if the cyber-criminals that were responsible for the Target Store credit card scanner data leak were the culprits behind this grievous crime. However, further investigation showed signs that the original point of infiltration originated from within the borders of North Korea. Whatever the case, it was obvious that these devilish cyber-thugs were attempting to use my Xmas list to undermine the fundamental meaning of this most glorious and holy of holidays– which, as everyone knows, is that I receive hundreds of ultra-expensive gifts. Using highly advanced cyber-trickery, my Xmas list was being hijacked and filled with things like throw pillows and fancy sheets rather than snowboards and skis. Sixty-inch TVs and video games were replaced with hand towels and new plates. Even as I mourned over the idea that Santa would never get my request for a new Fat Tire Bike, I was struck with an even harder blow. My inside contact at the CIA Cyber-Terrorism Division uncovered a code within the deepest layers of the matrix that traced back to an address in Duluth, MN – the very address we just recently moved to. Then it hit me like a sack full of naughty-kid coal. This was an inside job from the very beginning. Amanda was the hacker.

What could possibly motivate a person to do such a thing? To dedicate 5 years of her life getting close to her victim just to fill a poor boy’s Xmas list with girly knickknacks? Perhaps it was her desire to furnish the new home in Duluth we have purchased and will be moving into in January. True, this new home is much larger than the condo we owned in St. Paul and will require more furniture. It is also close to Lake Superior, which Amanda hopes will attract many visitors to fill the spare rooms. And of course, with visitors comes the need for fancy new bed sheets and hand towels.

Or perhaps Amanda was just overly tired from the stress of starting a new job and accidently added stuff to my Xmas list rather than her own? After all, her new job at the Maurices Corporate Headquarters as a real estate analyst does require using massive amounts of brainpower. She helps to determine where new stores should be built by analyzing more data than I knew existed. Maybe, just maybe, her eyes were all loopy after looking at all those spreadsheets and she just didn’t realize she was editing MY list.      

Or was it that she thought that since I’m working as a sheet metal worker I’d be so tired and cold after a long day outside that she took it upon herself to ask Santa on my behalf for decorative throw pillows on which to rest my weary head.

Amanda’s true motivation will forever remain a mystery. Whatever the case, the holidays are a time for peace and goodwill to all, and so, with that spirit in mind, Amanda has been pardoned of her holiday hijinks, with only one stipulation: She has to add a new Fat Tire Bike to HER Christmas list next year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Please come visit us at our new home 2323 Boland Drive, Duluth MN, 55804. I’ll be more than happy to share my plush new hand towels with you. 

 

Sincerely,

Drew, Amanda, and Loki  

 


Friday, November 7, 2014

Moving North!

Well, I guess this blog might need a new name. Farm Girl in the Far North? Farm Girl on the North Shore? Today is Drew's last day in the office. Below is the email he sent to our coworkers.

To all my dear PropTax friends (and others),


I have had many significant, life-altering things happen to me during my life. But I was either too young or too dumb to recognize them as being significant at the time. I guess I must be getting old, and perhaps my brain has finally developed beyond the adolescent stage, because this is the first time in my life that I remember actually stopping to take the time to think about a decision and how it will impact my life going forward. And I don’t like it one bit.
 

This stopping and thinking about stuff is really hard. Because now I have to think about how I am going to miss everyone here so much. And I have to remember all the great things that this division does, and all of the acts of generosity and kindness that I have witnessed here every day over the last 7 years.  I have to think about if this is the right choice; to say goodbye to something that has given me so much and to the people that have become like family. Will I ever find a place like this again? Will I ever find someone to hire me again? What the heck am I going to do with my life!

 

So I am done thinking about it. I will leave the thinking to the philosophers and those really deep, introspective poet-types. Instead, I am just going to do what I have always done: savor the past, enjoy the present, and let the future bring what it will. I’m not worried about it. It’s like my good buddy Danny Kaye said,  “Life is a blank canvas, and you need to throw all the paint on it you can.”  And that’s what I’m going to do, start splashing paint like I’m Jackson Pollock. Happiness to me is an ever-changing horizon, the thrill of going around that corner and not knowing what is on the other side, and those butterflies in your stomach the moment you drop off into the unknown. And so I’m going to venture down the road and let all those unknown bumps and curves shape who I am. To what end, only time will tell.

 
So that’s it. This is goodbye for now. I am so thankful for what everyone has done for me, and what they will continue to do for this great state. I was lucky to be part of it. I wish everyone the best in everything that they do. If you find yourself in Duluth, look us up and come hang out. We’ll go jump in the big lake. It’s totally rejuvenating, trust me. Bon voyage!

 
What is that feeling when you're driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? - it's the too-huge world vaulting us, and it's good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

This is the super cool photo the Department took of me to accompany any articles I submitted to assessment magazines.

Angela and I in front of the state seal, the state flag and the American flag on one of the biggest days of the year for my division (State Board of Equalization).

I will miss the close proximity to the Capitol. I've enjoyed many lunches on the Capitol Mall and was able to head over to the lawn the day the Marriage Equality Amendment passed. Minnesota is awesome, and I am proud to have been part of the public policy process in some small way.
 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

TBT: Butterheads old and new


One week from today the gates to the Great Minnesota Get-Together will open wide. Today is also Throwback Thursday. What a great day to talk about the state fair, and more specifically, butterheads past and present.

Growing up, my Dad offered to pay us $5 for every calf we successfully trained. At the time, I thought he was funding our state fair dreams. In retrospect, I think he greatly valued the amount of time we spent towing uncooperative calves around the yard “training” them, and as such, leaving Dad to work in peace.

For country kids, the fair was, and remains, a very big deal. The fair is the one week all summer parents allow, and even encourage, their children to spend time at the fair with their 4-H pals. Of course, a good deal of work is required to keep their animals well cared for at the fair, but there are plenty of opportunities for rides, malts, and hijinx as well.

For a dairy farmer’s daughter, the only dream that exceeds a Grand Champion Ribbon at the State Fair, is the opportunity to serve as Princess Kay of the Milky Way. To be eligible to represent the dairy industry as Princess Kay, you must work on an active dairy farm. Each county sends three young women to compete at the state level. Some counties have more than three contestants at the county level; however, the county must narrow it down to three candidates to send to the statewide competition. Of the 261 eligible candidates, only 12 finalists are selected to represent the dairy industry at the state fair. The 12 finalists compete for the title Princess Kay of the Milky Way. They are judged in 7 categories: etiquette, mock media interview, panel interview, extemporaneous remarks, panel interview, speaking ability, writing ability, and a one-on-one interview.

Bonnie, my older sister, was a finalist for Princess Kay in 2001. All 12 finalists have their likeness sculpted into a 90-pound block of Grade-A butter. The process takes 6-8 hours in a 40 degree, revolving room. It is a must-see at the fair.

Bonnie: Butterhead ’01

I was lucky enough to be a finalist in 2006. I was not selected as Princess Kay, but I did receive an ice cream cone charm made of Swarovski crystal, which is basically the next best thing, am I right?

Amanda: Butterhead ‘06



For three blissful years, the butter avatars coexisted in a freezer in my parent’s basement. Yes, my parents actually bought an extra freezer to store all 180 pounds of buttery goodness.

I had big plans for our butterheads. It was a long-term plan. Very long-term. I wanted to save our butterheads just in case my younger sisters followed in our footsteps and brought home their very own malleable statues. When Bonnie was crowned in 2001, our youngest sister Katrina was only two years old. As I said, long-term. Anyway, my big idea was to put all four butterheads together- a Mount Rushmore of sorts. For good measure, I thought we could put Santa hats on the heads and send out the most epic Christmas Card of all time! It would read, "Hope you have a Dairy Good Year!"

But alas, my sisters did not share my dream. More importantly, my parents did not support the idea of purchasing another freezer to warehouse butterheads. So the day after Bonnie's wedding in 2009 we had a giant corn feed and butter Bonnie bit the dust. In 2012, I followed suit the day after our wedding. I was not happy about it.


While it may be too late to create a Mount Thoemore Christmas Card, my younger sister McCayla is a finalist for Princess Kay this year. We are all so thrilled and excited to see her pursue this childhood dream. Princess Kay will be crowned next Wednesday, the night before the State Fair opens. Regardless of the coutcome, McCayla will always be my little Dairy Princess! XOXO Sista!
 
 



McCayla Thoe: Butterhead Coming 2014