WH Chronicle GHD 2019

February 1, 2019

Happy Groundhog’s Day Eve!

Are you snuggled near the fire with kith and kin, drinking warm hognog, and waiting for that big furry butt to make its way down the chimney? Wait...nevermind….mixed meta"go"phors.

“Wow, I can’t believe we lived through that!” ...seems to be the routine sentiment at Whaleherdienda. Lesser families, with common sense and a pragmatic nature, might remark annually “...yet another year is transformed into memories”. But here at Whaleherdienda, we either have bad memories or a yearning to go headfirst into the fog.  Like the first rule of Italian auto racing, “What’s behind you doesn’t matter.” Fair enough.

With that sentiment in mind, and because it’d be really difficult to describe the future, I’ll instead give you a 2018 rundown in a keyword format: teenagers, high school, broken foot, Interlochen, Medellin, puppy, car wreck, Quito, ER Visit, RV trip, Montana, sinus fungus, Toluca, home school, Cortina, failed house training, San Diego, Cancun, mad park ranger, musicals, blow outs, crappy insurance, surgery, Charleston, Rome, bassoon, lawyer, singer/songwriter, french horn, computer science,  Venice, aquarium, hell bird, Advil, bowling, racquetball, vodka, Tanzania, blown radiator, cat, 8000 miles, "hemahoma", beach, etc.

Just in case you don’t remember, or haven’t done it, raising teens is not for the squeamish. I’m extraordinarily thankful that our teens are enduring trials and tribulations while living with us, allowing them to have a soft landing and guidance for circumnavigating any potential disasters they cheerfully invite into their lives. But, “extraordinarily thankful” is not necessarily the vibe those teens might detect from me during the heat of battle. Regardless, I am. And, while I wouldn’t advocate for them to make completely conventional choices, stability is encouraged as it surely lends itself to tending retired musicians.

Personnel Report:

Daryl: Took a broken foot to a dance camp last summer, so the camp choreographed a one-footed dance for the the troupe. She was the stationary singer (‘park and bark’) stationed in the rolling chair, boat, and other set pieces on stage. Surprisingly, she’s now playing Dorothy in 42nd Street--the character that can’t dance because she broke her foot. Hmmm...

Sam: Spends happy days volunteering at the Austin Aquarium. He loves it so much he wants to ‘sleep with the fishies’. The birds, kangaroos, sting rays, lemurs, alligators, and pythons all receive his attention. He traded in our face-eating sun conure for a new computer. He currently sports 70’s rockstar hair.

Nathan is thriving and consistently brings levity and humor into our home. We are lucky to have him with us. He did get at least one haircut last year.

Carolyn is working in Wisconsin. Hilde is working in Australia. Jamilly is working in Kazakhstan. Sophia, pregnant, is working in Tanzania. Kaghondi is finishing his PhD in Minnesota. All chickadees are healthy and wise. It is a bountiful blessing to have them all as family.


Guido did 8000 miles in the RV this summer. He loved roaming the hills of Montana, but there is a RV park in San Diego from which we are banned because of his overzealous separation anxiety.

Mooch also did 8000 miles, but he is more apt to suffer narcolepsy than anxiety.

Louwise sat in her drinking water singing her bathing song. Seriously--that’s what this bird does.

Tom drove the 8000 miles for his vacation, and a good 20 miles of that was on the shoulder of the road because the radiator went nuclear on us.  Luckily, the truck finally died near a swimming pool.

Daris went swimming.

“My education wouldn’t be nearly as good if I hadn’t made so many mistakes.”

“Heredity is what sets the parents and teenagers wondering about each other.”
~Laurence J. Peter

“The alternative to a vacation is to stay home and tip every third person you see.”
~Author unknown

Wondering what to do with all of that future,


Mile 5867: We are clearly in Wile E. Coyote's neighborhood.
San Diego: Gweeds is not longer allowed in this city. 
Definitely not right. 
Not Halloween.  This is what she wants to do for a living.

It's hard to relax after a long day of having blue eyebrows. 

He makes 60 look good!
Fake backdrop?
Why is she the only one smiling?


WH Chronicle GHD 2018

February 1, 2018

Dear Friends, Family, and Family Friendly Others,

Happy Groundhog Day Eve from our crew to yours.  It is, once again, 'tis the season where
we contemplate the profoundly important things in life (insert awkward dramatic pause), like the true
meaning of Groundhog Day. Despite the commercialism, the hustle-bustle, and the hognoggery
surrounding this exalted holiday season, we must try to embrace the deeper revelations that this
astral event provides to our humanity.   In a spirit of love and joy, please join us in the poignant
reflection of our culture (insert dramatic pause followed by a knowing smirk) as it irrationally honors a
rodent for the inaccurate prognostication of the weather.   Amen.

Well, so much for being reverent.  Ok, NOW it is time for those tacky GHogDay Sweaters,
GHogDay hats, and kegs of GHogNog!  Get them out and get them ready for the festivities! May this
celebration (and all others glorifying vermin) be worthy of this nation and its politics!

Here it is, our 12th annual Groundhog Day Letter, originally initiated by the guilt and shame of sending
those adorable, personalized Christmas cards just two months late.   But, perhaps instead of
counting upwards in our GHD annals, we should be making a GHD countdown?  I mean, after the
kids leave the nest, who really wants to read about how many scoops of Metamucil I used in my coffee?  

So in true NASA style (and with my passion for exit strategies, and my dislike of cyclical behavior and
contrived annual events) consider this the “GHD Letter T Minus 4 Years and Counting”. Maybe.

As one might guess, the GHD reporting is becoming increasing more difficult. The kids are definitely
not around as much, but when they are present--they are now decidedly strangers borrowing our
kids’ identities. In an effort (albeit annoying) to reveal their real personalities, I interviewed these
individuals along with the other humanoid occupants of our household.  Communicating with them is
not for the faint of heart.   It takes a linguistic expert to decipher Sam’s adolescent grunts,
and a super-charged phone battery to intercept the majority of Daryl’s transmissions.  Nathan is a man
of few words, and Tom doesn’t like to ‘play along’. So here are the interview results (my
answers also thrown in for good measure). Names withheld, because, well, it's obvious.

Question: If you could be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you be in and what character
would you be?  
  • Rambo in “Rambo”
  • Big Lebowski in “The Big Lebowski”
  • Kit Fisto in “Star Wars” Saga
  • Mia in “Princess Diaries”
  • Rambo in “Barney’s Great Adventure”

Question: If you were in a time machine what place/time would you program it for your travel?
  • Convenience Store, last Tuesday before the Powerball announcement.
  • Los Angeles in the 1930’s

  • America, 500 years in the future

  • Hollywood in the 1940’s
  • Time Traveler Tourist Diner (next to the Time Travel Vehicle Repair Shop), Far away in the Future

Question:  Ya know...the ol’ deserted island question--what 3 things?
  • Flare gun, wifi, gaming laptop
  • Stew pot, machete, fully loaded Kindle

  • Sat phone, solar powered water desalinator, fishing rod
  • Bed, TV, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos
  • Genie Lamp with the prerequisite 3 wishes.

Question:If you could chat with a person over dinner, who and why?
  • Hitler, just cuz.

  • Robin Williams, of course.
  • Gordon Ramsey--cuz he’d make the dinner

  • Jessie Mueller, Broadway, duh!

  • Gandhi--cuz he’s a very cheap date

Question: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten (Hint: don’t play this game with people that lived
in Africa)?
  • Termites
  • Kaghondi’s cooking

  • Termite Poop

  • Raw Octopus

  • Hot Pockets

New Year’s Resolutions:
  • What’s that?

  • Yoga 4 times a week
  • Eat Healthy and exercise
  • To never again answer Mom’s dumb questions

  • Wear underwear without any holes; when that pair gets a hole then buy a new pair

Personnel Report:

Daryl is licensed to operate a Class C vehicle.  She thinks “C” stands for “Ciao, Bello”.  
Her 16th birthday was a big success and housebreaking the puppy was not.    

Sam has grown 5 inches in the last year.  His legs are hairy and, due to puberty,
he now grunts in incomplete sentences.  

Nathan, thankfully, shared a wonderful visit with happy and healthy family this Christmas!
His mom is healthy and his sister is getting married.  Nathan is in his 2nd year in Computer Science
at the University of Texas.  He is working at People Pattern and is currently planning a camping trip with
his buddies for Spring Break (See “Nerdz Gone Wild”).

Sophia is teaching in Arusha.  She is sharing her talents with the expat community and lots of very
lucky children.  For a few days last summer I was able to stay with Sophia in Arusha.  
This allowed me the honor of finally meeting her extended family.   

Kaghondi currently has his immediate family with him in Minnesota.  He is in the 2nd year of
his PhD program.  I traveled to his home village last summer in Singida and had the fortune of
meeting the many members of his extended family.  

Hilde is in LOOOVE with Angus.  He is adorable and has just signed on with the British military.   
His dad is a Brigadier General  (Medic) in the British armed forces.  Hilde is finishing her law degree in
Essex and misses Angus terribly.  

Jamilly’s correspondence tends to be more sporadic and random.  She is currently applying for
graduate schools and our fingers are crossed that she might study in the USofA.  

Tom has been partially relieved of his chauffeuring responsibilities as Daryl drives herself and
Sam to school each day.  Tom still gets up to see them off and then promptly resumes his overnight
nap on the couch after their departure.  He cooks, cleans, and does maintenance on the house, all
to great acclaim.  He is also begrudgingly responsible for the Menagerie (a.k.a. The Zookeeper).

Daris is consistently more consumed with long range planning than what is for dinner.   It is good to
have a family visionary, but it’s also good to have some dinner on the table.  Perhaps we can plan the
dinners a month in advance?

The Menagerie:
Guido (a.k.a Guidster, Guidlet, Gweedie Weedie, Gweedaroni, Gweedarino, Spider-rat) is
Daryl’s 16th birthday present, an Italian Greyhound puppy.  We are in the process of litter box training
him and he appears to be more about the process than the goal.  He has finally learned to lift his
leg (read: necessary redesign of litter box) and is now capable of watering the top of a cantaloupe.  
He has not yet learned to hate squirrels (another goal).   And, being a part of the greyhound family
he is fast and springy, but luckily, he tends to prefer napping and can be thankfully categorized
as a 35 mph couch potato.  He is Tom’s top ranked nap assistant.

Mooch, the nippy cat,  is making friends with the puppy.  He tolerates the pouncing and
barking nonsense for a while and then climbs out of reach only to return to the mayhem when
boredom sets in.

Louise, the cockatiel, still flings bird seed from her cage as far as possible.  Her favorite place is Tom’s
right shoulder.

Thelma--Sam’s new bird, a beautiful baby sun conure, has earned the name, “The Sonic Imploder”.  
She is loud, very loud, and demanding.  We are not sure if Thelma is female; doubt arises on this issue
because she tends to be very aggressive towards certain people, including viciously dive-bombing Daryl.
Perhaps we'll need to investigate a gender re-assignment for this overly protective bird.  Thelma's
favorite place is Tom’s left shoulder.  

Moe IV, and Larry V swim in circles (sometimes upside down) just like their many predecessors.

Watching the kids grow up is bittersweet as we observe the peaks and valleys of their young lives.
They negotiate those familiar hurdles that are as old as humankind, albethey veiled in new
technologies and trendy vocabulary.  It is easy to forget the irony that learning to gracefully
negotiate failure and rejection makes one better suited for success.  Of course, there is little
immediate solace in that sentiment.  Regardless, we watch, we help, we cheer, we console, we correct,
we advise, we remind, we remind, we love.  Then they will be out the door to make and/or neglect their
own decisions of life.   Hopefully, we’ve shown them how to illuminate their personal path towards
happiness and fulfillment.  Hopefully.

“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” ~Ben Williams

“If you want to recapture your youth, just cut off his allowance.” ~Al Bernstein

“If time travel is possible, where are the tourists from the future?”~Stephen Hawking

“The best substitute for experience is being sixteen.” ~Raymond Duncan

“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions.” ~Arnold Glasow

“Adolescence is a period of rapid changes. Between the ages of 12 and 17, for example, a
parent ages as much as 20 years.” ~Author Unknown

T minus 4, and making every minute count,

Cultural Arts Center at Tumaini Makumira University, Arusha, Tanzania
The Trick Eye Museum, Seoul, Korea
The Joint Security Area at the border of South and North Korea. 
This dog ain't right. 

Typical day at the Austin Symphony Orchestra.
Don't drive angry!!


WH Chronicle GHD 2017

February 1, 2017

Happy Groundhog Day!!

Dear Friends, Family, Strangers, Stranger Things, and Strangest Ones,

We are celebrating our 11th anniversary of the GHD Chronicle! Mostly because we blew through the 10th without a clue--not like we adhere to tradition, anyway.   Ahh, but 11 is far superior!  The Number 11 is a Master Number drawing on the cosmic forces for inspiration and enlightenment, through pronounced intuition and artistic sensitivity.  The First World War ended on the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.  Apollo 11 was the first manned spacecraft to land on the moon.  The deepest known point of the ocean is 11km at Callenger Deep, Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean.   The best amplifiers go to 11.  Some people even name their kid “Eleven”.     I feel a limerick coming on…

There once was a number from heaven
Who was proud of its name “Eleven”
But to its chagrin
Fame was thin
Until it named a store with its friend, number Seven.

Ok...on to eleven more boring things.  

Just like Sisyphus (the guy with an STD) running after his boulder, we chased 2016 down the hill.  I can’t remember what happened, so I’ll just make some stuff up.   

Lessons learned from 2016

Don’t ride the most beautiful train in the world over the Alps with an ear infection. The 7000 feet in altitude changes will adversely affect your enjoyment of the breath-taking scenery.  Just ask Sam.  

Watch your head on the 431st step of the Duomo in Florence.  Smacking it on the ceiling will inhibit your ability to enjoy the rest of Florence.  Just ask Sam.  

RV parks occasionally smell like BBQed sewage, but that might actually be better than the inside of your camper when traveling 8000 miles with a cat.

It the kids curse at the cat in a British accent it sound innocuous.  

The Pacific Northwest is beautiful the one month that it is not winter, but it is still too cold to fall out of a canoe.  Just ask Sam.
In Oregon, there are drive-thru marijuana stands, complete with dancing man blowers.

When your camper’s AC unit breaks in Las Vegas in August, your camper is rendered completely useless for anything except baking a cake without a using the oven.  Just ask Mooch.

The cheapest hotel in Vegas on Priceline is--wait for it--Trump Tower.  

Trump Tower doesn’t reject people carrying their clothes in grocery sacks.    

Showing up with a contrabassoon is like getting a boob job--no one expects you to do anything intelligent.

An alternator replacement for an XC90 Volvo costs $100 in Mexico; and takes 35 days.

A 35 day car repair in Mexico means you take two vacations for the price of three.  

When waiting in the glacially slow lines to cross the Mexican border, one can buy an accordion.

A chipmunk embedded in the tread of your tire leads to a discussion of Darwinian Theory.

Daryl thinks that “pack light” means that it is ok to bring a prom dress.  Just ask Sam.

Whaleherdienda Personnel Report
Daryl is more poised in her interactions as access to independent transportation draws near.    She spends most of her time singing and dancing or watching singing and dancing.   Who are we to say, “Don’t chase your passion”?

Sammy is taller and wiser.  He likes to count stairs.  His favorite pastimes are doing everything Daryl forbids him to do and protecting the universe via interdimensional digital combat.  He wonders why grades are attached to learning and thinks that this system is counterproductive.  
“They say, don’t be afraid to fail, but then scold us when we get a bad grade.”  

Nathan maintains a steady path despite enduring some serious heartache this year.    He has managed perfect grades, a heavy work schedule, and is vehemently competitive at Exploding Kittens.  

Hilde has a boyfriend and is bringing him to come see us (or rather the city of Austin) in March.    
Angus is adorable and we’ll be so happy to see them.  Hilde is still studying Human Right Law in Essex and has developed a British accent.

Kaghondi is still funny and charming.  He is pursuing his Doctorate at the University of Minnesota.  He’s trying to raise funds and air miles for his family to join him the next two years.  

Jamilly is finishing up an internship in Dubai.  She didn’t like it--and typical for her, she makes jokes about how everyone there worships money and works all the time.  She decided that work is definitely not for her.  
Sophia is teaching at Makumira!  And her students are lucky to have her.  She finished up being a star in the Choral Department at Texas State University.  

Mr. Grumpy Pickle, the Chameleon, was sold for a profit.

Mooch plays jungle kitty in the potted plants.  I’d like to play kitty executioner.  

Louwise is a loud and powerful intruder alert system, as long as that intruder is Tom, the only human she likes and is worthy of her screaming.

Tom daydreams about future employment opportunities such as: selling Trump memorabilia in Mexico, opening an RV Resort in the Virgin Islands, or maybe turning profits on Craigslist reptiles.

Fun Facts about Groundhog Day
Punxsutawney Phil, Phyllis (wife), and Phelicia (daughter) Sowerby

  • Phil is 129 years old
  • His youthful appearance is accredited to a secret elixir or “groundhog punch”.  Every sip extends his life by 7 years (oddly enough, the life span of a normal groundhog).
  • Phil practices traditions of royalty as Phyllis, his wife, is actually his sister.
  • February 2nd Canadians look to Wiarton Willie, a white groundhog,  to forecast their weather.
  • A few desperate Texans have been promoting “Bee Cave Bob” the armadillo as the official prognosticator of winter weather.  Not surprisingly, his ceremonies more closely resemble “Chicken Shit Bingo” than that of a true rodent meteorologist.  

Here at the Chronicle we do not support fake news or alternative facts, we endorse only the highest standard of investigative journalism.   With that in mind, we would like to share an unsubstantiated entry on Wikileaks bringing the secret formula of Punxsutawney Phil’s famous longevity elixir.  It is the perfect beverage to enjoy with your loved ones on Groundhog’s Day.  

P. Phil’s Secret Elixir for  a Long Life
3 carrots with tops
1 serving wheatgrass
11 bags of iron rich Kale
2 scoops of Purina Rabbit Chow
2 handfuls of alfalfa hay
11 bottles of Dr. Pepper flavored kombucha
4 Swedish Fish
Wool of a bat
2 Tbsp of a frozen Ecuadorian snowball
1 1 oz of fresh (not frozen) meteorologist's blood
2 grams of “Blowing Man” marijuana from Oregon
Salt to taste

Blend in the "Pulverizer 5000"
Chill and serve with 3 olives and a cocktail umbrella.  

“A crowded camper is better than an empty castle.”  Anonymous

“I have traveled more than anyone else, and I have noticed that even the angels speak English with an accent.” Mark Twain

Telling a teenager the facts of life is like giving a fish a bath. ~Arnold H. Glasow

“At the best of times, so much of this elixir was administered to me as a choice restorative, that I was conscious of going about, smelling like a new fence.”  Charles Dickens

I’m e’leven you with some photos!
Happy GHD!

Lovin’ the lowly humor,

This is not an endorsement.  


"...hmmm, I wonder if anyone will notice it missing..."

See!  I wasn't makin' it up!  Drive thru weed with dancing-man-blower-thingy.

Just trying out the stuff from the weed shop. 

It doesn't get any better than this.