WH Chronicle GHD 2020

February 2, 2020

Happy Groundhog Day!

Judging from all the media hype and commercialism around ‘the big game day’ it is really encouraging to see so many are finally embracing the true meaning of Groundhog Day with unbridled enthusiasm.   Go, Groundhogs!!

 As I contemplate which events of our whaleherd year would best be suited for the gentle eyes of our public, I must confess that an ever-growing state of criticism and controversy over written word gives me pause. 

Like, I would love to tell you about how our family fully embraces the esprit de corps of the Kansas City Chiefs, demonstrated through costumes and dancing…but that event is better left undocumented. Then there is celebrating our favorite country’s cuisine with our sombreros…but never mind about that.  I guess I shouldn’t even mention the theatrical reading of Uncle Remus…or even consider accepting large sums of money for writing the stories of my dear students in Tanzania.    

So, instead, I will share all of the year’s events that are completely race appropriate and benignly pleasing to the sensitivity readers:  Our family watched every episode of Pawn Stars on Netflix; we ate grapefruit; we used one Splenda in our decaf lattes; we bitched about pop-up ads; we answered inordinate amount of emails; we bought an Instant Pot, we used it a lot; we complained about pilled yoga pants; we researched every tiny purchase on Amazon; we hold accounts on Hulu, Netflix, Amazon, and Disney Plus; we whined about how natural deodorant is still not there yet; and we picked up dog poo (usually in the house and not outside).  Isn’t that all the American dream summed up in a doggie bag?

Not to forget, it is definitely a first world activity just to tell you about our life via white-man blog—and as much so for you to read it.  We tweet, chat, email, blog, text, post, etc.  So, it seems the time for backyard get-togethers, relaxing Sunday dinners has gone by the wayside cuz we’re too busy posting or preparing something within our digital worlds?   Maybe.  But, I digress from true blog format, where only upbeat, non-thought provoking, and attention-impaired accessibility is allowed.   

Annual American Family Checklist
Travel (professionally and vacationally)
Health re-evaluation
College audition hell
Grumpy teen
Won Lottery (in all of life’s most important categories)

In our health re-evaluation, the doctor encouraged us to eat organic and to eliminate processed foods.  Sounds easy enough, right?   But upon inspection, a bag of organic carrots costs more than a Big Mac.  And a head of organic cauliflower costs more than 5 items at Taco Bell.  So, in all seriousness, we have an incentive issue at play:  it is cheaper to eat poorly, suffer illness, and then let insurance pay for medications, than it is to join the gym and eat healthy, organic food.   But, as my dad always says, “You don’t want your money’s worth out of insurance.”  I need to take his advice more often, I think.

In our health revamp, I’ve also switched to organic deodorant and hairspray.  It was all fine and good until I confused the two.  I had sticky armpits and my hair didn’t sweat—only one of those outcomes is even slightly desirable.

Troop Roll Call:

Daryl is in the middle of college audition hell.  It is an expensive and an extremely grueling process for a program in Musical Theatre because of the high rate of rejection.  Most programs only take 4-10 ladies each year.    Keep your fingers crossed that she is happy with the final outcome and the impending financial doom doesn’t eliminate our Splenda Lattes. 

Sammy still works in the avian department at the aquarium.  He just adopted a new member of the family.  If she were human she’d be able to take care of us all in our old age, but rather the opposite.  I have trouble envisioning any American family that can truly offer a forever-home to a macaw.  What person has 75 years of a consistent life-style?  It seems like just 25 years would be a lot to ask.  It is as if these creatures live mythological lives blessing one generation to the next, like Santa Claus, or maybe, Krampus.   

Just like Daryl, Nathan is getting ready to graduate with his computer science degree.  When Tom asked him if he was interested in graduate school, he scoffed and said that route is only for those who want to teach or research. Whew—wouldn’t want that!

Hilde is working in Prague. Carolyn just released her first album.  Jamilly hasn’t called. Sophia had her baby.  Kaghondi is living with family in Minnesota while working as a pastor.  We love them all so much.


Guido runs from the bird.  Mooch runs from the bird.  Daryl runs from the bird.  Louwise sits in her cage and eats her foot.  They all strap their fannypacks on when it’s time to be mobile.

Introducing: Roxy.   Roxy is a magnificent Ruby Macaw—Sammy’s dream bird.  She was hand-raised and is very comfortable climbing on, riding on, nibbling on, and pooping on people.  She waddles around the house chasing the dog as if flying wasn’t invented.   Sam behaves like a new dad and tends Roxy’s every need.  They sleep together, shower together, eat together, study together, ride in the car together, and blow up aliens together. Both Sam and Roxy are amused that she can stick her tongue up Sammy’s nose almost a whole inch. Roxy also wakes him each morning by regurgitating on him.  A sign, that we read, is a show of birdy love. Ahhh…how sweet. 

Stay tuned for next year’s Groundhog Day edition:  “And then there were 3…”

“One of the most significant facts about humanity may finally be that we all begin with the natural equipment to live a thousand kinds of life but end in the end having lived only one.”  ~Clifford Geertz

“The difference between friends and pets is that friends we allow into our company, pets we allow into our solitude.” ~Robert Brault,

“The advantage of a classical education is that it enables you to despise the wealth which it prevents you from achieving.”  ~Russell Green

“Do not waste yourself in rejection; do not bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.”   ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy about it all,

Roxy and Sam

Sam's new car!

Almost road worthy!

Our first minute driving in England. 

The second minute driving in England...


Sam took this one...

Darn Tourists

Castle visits: multiply this photo by 1000. 

What's a Welsh Duck Train?

Sam, again.

We met "Chewing Gum Man"  He paints gum discarded around London. 

Sav and Daryl have personalized gum on Millennium Bridge

Sam and a mangy pigeon. 

Where the Robin Williams' "Popeye" was filmed.

Croatian Beach, complete with snack-hunting donkey.

Wanna go to a German Spa? 

Nuf' said. 

Did we win the prize for best Louvre photo?

Sammy working at the dairy farm. 

All of his time at the London Zoo was here.  

Keep your fingers crossed for this one's theatrical pursuits!  

May your days be filled with love!


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!!