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December 29, 2005


My brother-in-law Jim is a great guy. Visits to Minneapolis used to mean latenight walks with him & Sam the dog, during which Jim and I'd talk about this and that. This trip was different. Sam is 15 now and had had a December 22 trip to the emergency vet to stitch up a big cyst on his leg which had spontaneously (well, who knows, maybe he bit it) ruptured, leaving blood, lymph, and other doggy bodily fluids on the floor. Springer Spaniels are not smart. Loyal, affectionate to a fault, yes. But smart? No. Sam sported a plastic neck cone to keep him from pulling out his stitches. The whole five days of our visit he bumped that cone into everything, never learning that it was somehow connected to his body. For whatever reason, there were no long latenight walks. I didn't even think about it till now.

Our last night, Jim drives home from work, then takes his daughter Sarah to her hockey league game an hour south to Mankato,
the town Mapquest forgot. Misled by bad web directions, they get there during the 2nd period. One 5-4 loss later, leaving the
arena they're greeted by heavy snow and inch their way home where Big Sarah and I wait for our ride to the train station. A
slow go, he skips dinner so we won't be late. Without a word of complaint, Jim, who'd had such a long day, helps load our
copious luggage (my sister had been very generous with the gifts) and drives us past at least one SUV spinout to
St. Paul in time for our 11:15 pm departure. Margaret takes charge and helps us to our gate. (Thank you!)

I hadn't seen snow in two years. It was pleasingly sticky and Sarah and I threw snowballs on
the platform while we waited for the "all aboard!" Boarding a train is the best feeling.