Thursday, May 31, 2007
Xanthoria Elegans is the name I suggested for this goat and it's the one they picked. Cool! This is a great website if you like goats and I do. They have the most interesting little faces. Go to the website and scroll down to read about Penrose. The goat who writes this blog has quite a way with words!
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I should plant my whole yard in perennial grass...the kind you don't have to mow. My neighbors would probably get up a petition to throw us out. They aren't much for the wild, random look of my yard. They're more into plastic edging and rocks.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Kramer is experiencing some separation anxiety lately. He howls like a banshee when we leave the house. And my VW Beetle has a problem with the security system...it goes off randomly about fifty percent of the time when you either start it or get out the passenger side. Neither of those actions has anything to do with stealing the car and besides I'm the owner. I should be able to get out of either door. It's embarassing to jump in the car in front of the post office and drive down Third Street with the horn honking and the flashers flashing. That segue was not as ragged as it seems...both stories relate to loud noise.
There's a great summer reading list in the Tribune. It was generated by the Book Babes who have their own website and believe that books are better than Botox. If you look at the website right now, the current posting has a list of other websites where you can find books and book reviews. It's an endless web. I'm reading a book now called Riding the Bus With My Sister. It's a non-fiction story about a woman and her disabled sister who rides the city bus all day long. For her birthday, the sister decides to ride along for a year. I like it.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Sunday....I think I cleaned up the house a little. Must not have been memorable. Imagine kitchen-floor mopping being non-memorable. We watched Ella in the evening while Bob and Emily went to a movie. She's so darn sweet. Just as she was going to sleep on my lap, she rolled over, pointed at Regis and said, "Boppop". Regis just melts. Nothing like a baby to do that to you.
Monday...I got up early, cleaned the kitchen and had breakfast, then went out to dig up a daylily garden. I estimated it would take an hour. Three hours later, I was almost done. I dragged a huge wheel barrow, a wagon, and four boxes of daylilies to my neighbor. I decided I was too tired to plant anything so came in the house to clean up. I always look out the bathroom window when I take a shower. There was my neighbor to the south pulling the Engelman ivy off the ugly chain link fence. It's their fence but I can't imagine why someone wouldn't want to look at that beautiful ivy instead of chain link. It was the first year it had berries on it. I marched out and told the guy he could just drop it over the fence and I would plant it somewhere else. I know now I won't but it made me sick to think of the three years I spent cultivating that plant to have someone rip it down.
We went to Lexington to the Hide-Away Resort for an early Memorial Day dinner with Betty and Tom. They have wonderful appetizers: fresh green beans and onions deep-fried in a light tempura batter. Much better than the usual frozen fare. When we got back to town, we went to Betty and Tom's and sat in their new screened in cabana. There was a nice breeze that helped keep the bugs out even though their dogs ran in and out every time someone walked by on the path.
We love Tom and Betty's new dog Gonzo. He's dumber than a box of hammers but he has such a cute face. He looks like Winston Churchill only not as smart. If you talk to him, he makes this funny face like he's trying to understand you. He runs out of the cabana through the door but when he tries to come back in, he slams into the screen. We laugh every time.
Our neighbor, Mike Callahan, who did the magic show at our St. Patty's party also does comedy. He ran over Friday night to tell us that he had just gotten a call that he'd gotten a spot at Goonie's in Rochester. He's done the MC gig there before but this is the second spot from the top and apparently pretty competetive. He was thrilled about this. We're making plans to take all the neighbors down for his show on October 2nd. Mike's also planning a magic show for adults in St. Peter the week before Halloween.
I keep nagging Regis to check the lottery tickets because I have a bad case of "I don't want to go to work tomorrow."
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
I took a school trip to Albert Lea today. Just my luck that Blue Earth county was under a severe storm watch when I was coming home. Minneapolis was getting tennis ball size hail and fifty mph winds so I was glad to dodge the storms and get home before it rained anymore.
There's one of Kent Haruf's books on the table in the porch. If you haven't read his books, I'd recommend you check them out. These are my favorites:
Eventide to Robert Redford. I thought he could make a great movie out of it. This is from the publisher:
Colorado, January 1977. Eighty-year-old Edith Goodnough lies in a hospital bed, IV taped to the back of her hand, police officer at her door. She is charged with murder. The clues: a sack of chicken feed slit with a knife, a milky-eyed dog tied outdoors one cold afternoon. The motives: the brutal business of farming and a family code of ethics as unforgiving as the winter prairie itself.
In his critically acclaimed first novel, Kent Haruf delivers the sweeping tale of a woman of the American High Plains, as told by her neighbor, Sanders Roscoe. As Roscoe shares what he knows, Edith's tragedies unfold: a childhood of pre-dawn chores, a mother's death, a violence that leaves a father dependent on his children, forever enraged. Here is the story of a woman who sacrifices her happiness in the name of family—and then, in one gesture, reclaims her freedom. Breathtaking, determinedly truthful, The Tie That Binds is a powerfully eloquent tribute to the arduous demands of rural America, and of the tenacity of the human spirit.
Well, that's enough for tonight. There are rumbles of thunder in the distance, Kramer's lying on the couch chewing his toy (he could never have toys before...Bert hogged them and started fights if he didn't get ALL the toys), and I'm tired.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
It was a long day at work. I voted to cook on the grill tonight since the next few days look like rain. We got the coals going, then the rain started. It didn't rain long though, so Emily and Ella walked over with the stroller. Ella and her Boppop played catch with a rubber ball. She gets such a kick out of that...claps everytime she catches it. We finished dinner on the grill...giant shrimp from the truck, big old portabella mushrooms, Yukon gold potatoes, Vidalia onions, and pineapple. The best part was a slab of herb focaccia bread that I buttered and grilled. It was wonderful.
I've enjoyed driving my Beetle except the robber control (security alarm) seems to go off for no reason. It's very embarassing. The first time I jumped out and walked away quickly like I would be accused of stealing it myself. I wonder what those alarms are supposed to do. Nobody pays much attention except the person who set it off. The car has a great radio and a great air conditioner which are the only two things I really care about. It does kick some butt which Regis likes. When you give it some gas, it almost rears up on its back wheels and peels out leaving a puff of smoke like the old cartoon cars. I don't make it do that very often.
We've been two weeks without television and we haven't really missed it. I watched Grey's Anatomy on my computer last week and we have a movie from Netflix, but otherwise we have been tv-less. Of course, this is the time of year we never watched much anyway. We might miss it on those long dark winter nights.
I'm reading a very good book called The History of Love. I just finished The Long Way Round which I might have written about before because it got a little tedious. I thought these dudes were going around the world alone but they had an entourage to bail them out whenever things got too bad. They did have some adventures (lots of people in Russia with guns and vodka) but it wasn't what I expected.
The end of the school year always leaves me with about one nerve left. Today I packed off a big package that contained our corrective action plan for our last due process compliance monitoring. It's not my best gig...lots of numers with decimal points, lots of dates, lots of detail. It was a good feeling to be done with it. Tomorrow I'm going to another district to see a program they have but this time of year it's hard to care enough about anything to act interested and ask intelligent questions. Maybe that will come back to me overnight.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Bert was a difficult pet to train because he figured things out and before you knew it, you were the one who was trained. If he barked at me when I was on the phone, I would toss him a treat. Pretty soon, the minute I picked up the phone, he started barking. Regis would give him a treat to get him off the bed at night. If he made the mistake of leaving the bedroom before getting into bed, Bert jumped right back up and expected another treat.
One of our favorite stories about Bert is the time just a few weeks ago when he chased a rabbit across the back yard. He was already suffering from congestive heart failure and he must have gotten right to the end of his capacity because he passed out against the fence. When Regis went out to pick him up, he had a chunk of that rabbit's tail in his mouth. He might have been old and decrepit but he could still catch a rabbit.
Regis has been devastated by Bert's death. He wonders why we get pets when it's so hard to lose them. I think it's the same reason we let people into our lives. It would be pretty boring to spend your life alone so you were protected from hurt. As damn ornery as Bert was, he was an entertaining and occasionally even a lovable pet. He's in dog heaven now, not bothered by seizures, thyroid problems, or difficult breathing. He's chasing rabbits and birds and working somebody else for just one more treat.
He was some dog.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
When I get home, I find that Trent left a message this morning at 7:40 a.m. He is still planning to come and look at the truck on Friday but if we get a better offer he doesn't want us to hold it for him. What in the hell does that mean? Probably that he got home, told his dad he bought a cool truck with an iPod adaptor that he only saw in the dark, and...what do you know...he changed his mind.
So I call Tom back but he's out mowing the lawn. This is way more work and discussion about vehicles than I care to have. A person ought to be able to buy a car or sell a car like you buy and sell bags of vegetables or old television sets. This is not a deal for a lifetime. This is a thing with wheels that will get you places for a few years at most. It doesn't deserve this much attention.
Regis found a VW Beetle in the paper that I'd like to buy. It has heated seats and a moon roof. I didn't ask about the rubber.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
I just walked over to visit with my neighbors across the street and ended up with a taste of his spicy baked beans and chipotle barbecue sauce, a tour of his garden, and two plants to bring home. Paul has a gorgeous garden with lots of herbs, hanging tomatoes, a koi pond, and several little out-buildings one of which we call the cabana. He has great parties in the summer where he cooks pizza in a brick oven or huge shrimp on the barbecue grill. He and Julie and I got to telling funny tornado stories about things like their post-modern carpenter, the guy who put in my front walk who said he had a PhD in Botony, the roofer with a wooden leg and Cliff the ceiling plasterer who thought he was an artist and Billy his EBD helper. Quite a cast of characters. I said someone should collect those stories because I'm sure you could multiply our stories by hundreds.
What a change in the weather. Last night must have been about 40 degrees. The flag and the wind chimes outside out bedroom window made a lot of noise all night but it was pleasant noise. The wind reminds me of the cool wind off the lake in the spring and early summer. Quite a change from the 90 degrees on Sunday. Things in my garden starting to bloom: daisies, cheddar pinks, phlox, columbine, and something else I can't remember the name of.
Regis and I went to the pet store tonight for provisions for our livestock, including the fish and the wild birds. A fellow who worked in the bird seed department told me more than I ever wanted to know about grackles and grosbeaks. We stopped at Famous Dave's for an appetizer and a beer. Now that Regis is home every day by 5:30, I'm back in the habit of cooking a meal most nights and most nights I do alright but some nights we have grilled cheese sandwiches or omelets.
A guy is coming to look at my pick-up tonight. We've had an ad in the paper for three weeks and this is the second call we've had. A man I work with has been interested but he's one of those tough car customers....he wants to know about the previous owners, how many miles it gets to the gallon, and what kind of rubber it has. That's a whole other story, that rubber thing...
I had a Mustang years ago that I wanted to sell. Dad made a list of all the car-related information so if anyone called I would know what to say. Things like how big the engine was, how many pistons it had, what kind of oil it used...stuff like that. So this man calls and he starts with the questions. I answer every one, looking at the list. His final question is, "How's the rubber?" Long pause. Very long pause while I search up and down the list and do a mental survey of the car. I can't find anything about rubber on the list and for the life of me, I can't think of anything rubber inside, so finally I say, "There's no rubber on it." Of course, he meant the tires. I was mortified but what an asshole. Really, who would call it that?
So, that guy might be out of luck if this guy wants my truck. But I'm having seller's remorse, meaning that I might be asking too much. After all, it needs a timing belt, a tune-up and will need tires (AKA rubber) in the next six months. Regis is rolling his eyes and reminds me that I once bought a car for the sticker price. Oh, yeah. I did.
Sunday, May 13, 2007
She can count to four (when I ask her how old she is and then say "one", she laughs and says "two") and says a bunch of words like frog, button, swing, fish, juice, and almost anythng else you say which means you have to be careful with the cuss words.
Here are the men looking suave and debonair. They were cute pushing the baby in the stroller with a bouquet of tulips in the back. Too bad they're both taken...that would have been a real chick magnet.
It got up to 90 degrees today which I hate. We're back to the windows and doors closed and it's even too hot to be on the porch. Might as well be winter. The little plants I transplanted yesterday are looking pretty droopy. I'll go out and water them when it cools off but I'm not optimistic.
Regis rigged up a container for grape jelly so we can attract Orioles to our garden. I saw a female in the backyard this afternoon. We've had so many interesting birds... I think the absence of the neighborhood cat has made a difference. I think I'll put the hummingbird feeders out again.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
I spent most of the day in my garden. This picture is the fern-leaf peony I wrote about in a previous post, the one I almost put in the compost pile. I've had it for years and this is its first blossom. The whole plant is about a foot high and the flower is maybe five inches across. It's a beautiful deep red. Here is what I did in the garden:
- Trimmed the junipers on the hill in front
- Cleaned the dead stalks out of the coneflower beds
- Pulled about forty miles of artemesia roots out of the back of the garden. This is the plant that my neighbor said was not invasive, but is.
- Pulled out a bunch of false sunflowers
- Transplanted a few things to the hill by the sidewalk where most things won't grow
- Cleaned up the monarda
- Pulled grass out of the daylilies
- Fertilized the new shrubs
- Took out the shrub in front of the house that looked dead and probably was
- Planted all the house plants in pots so they can live outside for the summer
- Took a truck load of plant debris and grass clippings to the compost pile
Regis says the titan arum is blooming!
Thursday, May 10, 2007
We had a lovely evening. I had started the grill and chopped all kinds of vegetables for dinner by the time Regis came home. I put some of Emerill's Baby Bam seasoning on some chicken thighs so we were ready to go. We sat in the yard and enjoyed the birds and the breeze and cooked chicken and vegetables. The grosbeaks came back to the feeder, the dogs prowled around the back yard, and we finished the meal with some Girl Scout cookies. Great Thursday.
I almost had a GRAND SLAM in the mail today. First, the tickets for the Brewfest came. The next envelope had a letter from my doctor that the spot he sliced off my hand the other day was benign. The last envelope was from the Board of Teaching and I thought it might contain my license. That would be perfect! But no, it's a request for an official transcript within thirty days or I forfeit my 57 dollars and have to start over. So, there you go.
The Brewfest is great. Lots of micro breweries, good music, good outdoor food, and lots of laughs. We had a good time last year. This year the legendary Jane and Dick are coming from Iowa (repeat customers) to join Tom and Betty, Regis and me. I'm sure a good time will be had by all.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
These two beautiful birds have been visiting our feeder regularly during the past week. The bird in the top picture is the male rose-breasted grosbeak. He comes often and eats safflower seeds for a long time. The bird in the bottom picture is the female. She's very shy and has yet to come to the feeder but sits in the apple tree and watches while he eats. Maybe she eats when we aren't sitting there. We've also had a male cardinal at the feeder quite often. One day I saw him in the apple tree when the blossoms were full and pure white. While we were out today, Regis spotted a Baltimore oriole in the neighbor's maple tree. He was beautiful against the red leaves. One of our neighbors moved away and took her two cats with her which has had good and bad results. More birds and more rabbits.
It was a bear of a day today. The secretary was absent so I took every phone call and answered the door every time someone knocked. I don't think I did one thing without an interruption. I was supposed to go to a workshop in Minneapolis tomorrow but I cancelled at the last minute. I really don't give a fig today.
When I came home from work, I had a cold beer and a piece of rhubarb pie. Ah, that feels better.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
One of my favorite goats to read about, Herron Hill's April the First died Sunday. Very sad. I love the blog This Goat's Life and learned about April there. The farmer said April was the sweetest most ornery goat in the world, smart as a whip and crazy as a bedbug.
Don't forget to check out the titan arum (corpse flower) on the Gustavus website. There are three of these funky flowers blooming in the US simultaneously. Or almost simultaneously.
I have a fern-leaf peony in my garden that's been a survivor of almost ten years. I got it from Mom's garden on the farm and transplanted it here on the south side of the house. It sat there for several years, not growing and not blooming. I was ready to get rid of it when I moved it to the west side of the house instead. It sat there for several years, not growing and not blooming. One day I grabbed ahold of it to pull it out and noticed it had a root like a carrot. I remembered Mom saying not to plant it too deep so I left it about half-way out the ground and covered it again with dirt. Now it has one big red bud on it and if the rabbits don't get it, it will have a flower soon. That's a long wait...not as long as for the titan arum but still a long wait.
I finished the book called The Last Season. It's the story of Randy Morgenson, a ranger in the Sierra Nevada mountain range who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. It was interesting but I was ready for it to end. I can't imagine going out into the wilderness for days at a time carrying everything you need in a backpack. People who are not afraid to do things like that have different brains than people like me.
We're watching Twister and the sky is getting blacker and blacker outside the windows...right here where we live. This may not be a good idea.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
I made the pico de gallo and got some teasing about the name. It's just salsa, they said, but it isn't. I read a few recipes and in the end, chopped up whatever I had: tomatoes, tomatillos, red onion, garlic, green onion, and lots of cilantro. It was delicious. The difference between this and salsa is that salsa is cooked; so there.
I also made a key lime margarita pie. Here's the recipe:
1/2 cup pretzels, finely crushed
1/2 cup graham crackers, finely crushed
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup frozen limeade concentrate, thawed
2 tablespoon tequila
1 tablespoon orange liqueur
Few drops green food coloring, optional
1 cup heavy cream
To make the pretzel crust, combine the crushed pretzels, graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter. Once the mixture is combined, spread the mixture evenly into a 9-inch pie tin. Press the mixture in the tin onto the bottom and the sides to form a firm even crust. Bake for 5 minutes until the edges are lightly browned. Let shell cool until needed.
For the filling, use a large mixing bowl, and combine the sweetened condensed milk, limeade, tequila, orange liqueur, and food coloring if desired, until all ingredients are well mixed. In a medium size bowl, beat the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the lime and tequila mixture. Spoon the filling into the pie shell, cover and freeze for 4 hours or until firm.
To serve, let pie stand for 10 minutes after coming out of freezer. Slice pie and garnish with lime slices.At the end of the recipe was this disclaimer:
This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.
And so it doesn't look at all the picture if you make it according to the directions. It makes a smallish pie in a pie plate. If I were to make it again, I would make it in a spring form pan and double the recipe so it gets higher. I'd also add more lime, either lime zest or something. It needed a little more kick. I didn't use pretzels either because they are a snack food and it's wrong to put them in a dessert. I used all graham cracker crumbs. Everyone thought it was a nice palate soother after all the peppers and spice.
We had 50 mph winds this morning. It knocked a lot of small branches off our birch tree and if I had any gumption, I'd go out and rake them up. It was a mighty wind. I guess a lot of people lost shingles and bigger branches. I've been looking at the tornado damage in Greensburg, Kansas. The wind is a powerful force so don't go outside to look up into the sky when the sirens go off where you live. Get your ass to the basement. The other thing they don't tell you is that THE REASON YOU SHOULD STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS IS WHEN THE GLASS BREAKS IT BLOWS INWARD AND EMBEDS ITSELF IN WHATEVER IS IN THE WAY. That could be your flesh. If you've ever picked glass shards out of wood or plaster, you will get this message loud and clear.
Bert had another cyanotic episode the other day. He went out the patio door and spotted a rabbit. He lit out after it, got to the corner of the yard where the rabbit went through the hole in the fence, and he must have used up whatever he had because he went down in the dirt. With a mouthful of bunny fur in his mouth. Regis went out and carried him into the house. It was a pitiful sight...poor Bert all limp and dirty but proud with a piece of that rabbit in his mouth. He might be old but he can still chase rabbits.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
I had an email from Jocelyn in PA when I got home. She said she was having a stroke and was on her way to the hospital. WTF???? Sorry for the acrononymous cuss but really. My God. I emailed right back and her husband responded briefly with a phone number at the hospital. A little more information, Joe? Regis talked to him later and he said it's not a stroke like you think. We don't know what that means and might now know until tomorrow.
Peter called very disgruntled with his current sandwich career. He asked for a raise because he works overnights, goes in when other people call in sick, never misses work himself, and because he makes a mean meatball sub. No dice the boss said. I suggested it might be time to consider a new career.
Our poor dogs were confined most of the day. I hope they did laps around the kitchen because they need to sleep tonight. Too bad they can't do dishes or clean out the refrigerator.
Don't forget to check the webcam for the corpse flower at Gustavus. The link is below.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
(AP) Moorhead, Minn. As many as 200 students decided to celebrate graduation at Concordia College by skinny dipping in a murky campus pond early Monday, authorities said.
A security officer tried to shoo the students out of the pond but they wouldn't cooperate, Concordia security chief Sherri Arnold said.
Moorhead police were called after students pushed the security officer's golf cart into the pond.
Police estimated that when they arrived on the scene, about 50-75 students were in various states of undress and fleeing, but no one was naked.
Although no one was arrested, several people could face charges for damage to the cart.
Arnold said 10 people were identified because they left their clothes and wallets behind.
Sunday was graduation day at Concordia.
An email address is like a home address and we've gotten comfortable with hickorytec.net in the past few years so it's a bit disconcerting to change it just as it would a bit unsettling to move.
We've grown weary of being manipulated by the cable companies. In order to have DSL you must have a phone and in order to get this amazing "bundled rate" you need to have cable TV. The bill for all this is 100 dollars a month? Stack this on top of a hefty cell phone bill and a little light bulb goes off in a guy's head that says, "NOW JUST A SECOND HERE!" I know that this will sound old and grumpy but I remember when my phone bill was about 8 bucks a month, and no, the phone didn't have a hand crank for calling the operator.
Hickorytech, our provider (sounds deity-like), when contacted about the possibility of carrying internet only said "no, can't do it" and when I told them that I would seek service elsewhere their attitude was that "this is a choice which you'll have to make." So there you go. The arrogant bastards could have had a part of something but now have 100% of nothing.
Mediacom, the new guys, connected the cable internet hookup last night. The speeds are a bit better and we're happy. We're also happy to have ditched the house phone. Would it surprise anyone that all we get anymore are spam calls looking for donations or pleas to Help The Handicapped Goats of Botswana? We have also dumped the TV. The programming on television has degenerated into such a state with this reality TV tripe that it insults the intelligence of any reasonable person. Did I really see an ad for a new show that incorporates destructive and disruptive stunts into weddings? This has to be a guy-thing and I want to be the first to tell the guys that whoever came to you with that simple stunt should be fitted with concrete shoes because your Mrs may forgive; but she will never forget.
Ok, I am finished ranting. You get the picture and don't forget to update the email addresses.