Saturday, May 31, 2008

El Kabong!

Mosquitoes are out in full force here! It could be like the year you had to spray yourself to take the trash container to the curb safely. The gnats are also something to contend with. I had a knob on the back of my head from a gnat bite like I'd gotten the El Kabong from Quick Draw McGraw. Little bastards.

We've had thunderstorms popping up all afternoon and evening. There were tornado warnings for some counties but I don't think they amounted to any sightings. Keep your weather radio on tonight, Miles.

It was nice to meet Miles today. He's just as blue-eyed and happy as he looks in his pictures.


I love Friday nights because the whole weekend stretches out in front...and last night, the whole summer stretched out in front of me because yesterday was the last day of the regular school year. Today they both start ticking away. Another weekend phenomenon: I don't know why it seems on a school day I could sleep until 9 but on Saturday, I wake up at 5:30.

Today I'm going to Jill's to meet Miles, my weather report buddy. Miles lives a ways from St. Peter so he always wants to know what he should wear when he comes to visit. Unfortunately, I've had to advise the Patagonia quite late in the season this year. Also weights in the pockets a few times as it's been so windy.

We watched the movie Dan in Real Life last night. What a waste of plastic and human energy. That was the sappiest, stupidest movie ever made next to Joe Versus the Volcano. One of the reviewers said, "I had a friend named Dan once. He stole my wife, killed my dog, and burned down my house. I still liked him better than Dan in Real Life." That about sums it up. We could hardly make it to the end. We knew how it was going to end anyway and we just didn't care. There's a family talent show scene where you will want to take a long break in the kitchen if you decide to watch this bomber anyway. (Oh, one more thing: I am SO glad I didn't pick this movie out!)

On to the weekend. I have my cleaning chores to do, some more spice tins to assemble and display, and some plants to put in the ground. I think we're going to T&B's for a little grilling tonight. I bought two vegetable grilling cookbooks the other day so maybe I'll find a tempting artichoke recipe. Ha!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

the tides of life

When the tides of life turn against you
And the current upsets your boat,

Don't waste those tears on what might have been,

Just lay on your back and float.

-- Ed Norton

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

dude, aka Duwayne

Regis met a guy on the phone yesterday whose name is Dude. Well, really his name is Du-Wayne. Or at least, that's the way he said it.

It was a beautiful afternoon. Regis wanted a light dinner but I wanted to cook wieners on the grill and I won. The elder son stopped by and had dinner with us...I loaded up the tray with condiments and a bag of chips and we ate wieners off the grill right in the front yard. How gauche.

This is Ella with her umbrella chair that Tiffany gave her last year for Christmas. She spends a lot of time dismantling the umbrella part which I guess if you're a little kid is half the fun.

It was dang cold on Memorial Day, even with a camp fire but the mosquitoes weren't out yet. Today they are out in full force and big as hell. You have to hug the grill and stay in the sun to discourage them. Gads, they are nasty critters. I can hardly get Regis outside when the temp is below 80..and there is no chance when you throw in biting insects.

Speaking of critters, I think I discovered the answer to the mystery of the giant bird poop in the front yard. My neighbor hypothesized that it was duck poop but I said what are the chances of three ducks walking down my walk on the same day and pooping in such close proximity... as it was unlikely the poop would land in such good shape if they let it go from the sky. If you're interested, you can check here, or put grackle poop into google and see what you discover. The link is very funny...the guy has a great sense of humor about bird poop. Hey, it's a big world and you ought to learn about it.

Here's another story that captivated me. I read an essay about a guy named Phillippe Petit and got interested. He's a highwire artist and once walked a wire between the Twin Towers. Get it? Walked on a tightrope wire between the Twin Towers. Carrying a pole to help him balance. So high that if you fell you would be a little bitty grease spot on the asphalt down below. I get dizzy standing on a chair so I really can't imagine this at all. Not for a second. This would be like climbing Mt. Everest, not even in the realm of possibility for me. My friends know I am not the adventurous type. I have to buy a map and pack a bag to go to Minneapolis.

I'm sort of disgruntled with the book I'm reading which I'm not going to disparage here as it might be me. I just can't keep all the characters straight (a character will be called by two names in the same paragraph...huh?) and the story is not linear which doesn't appeal to me. I miss the Mayo brothers and their interesting lives.

So, there you go: Duwayne, grackle poop, highwire walkers, and books. It's a full life here in this small town.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

These are pictures from our traditional trip to Green Lawn Cemetery, the first one established in St. Peter when Minnesota was still a territory.

It's a beautiful place, full of old oak trees, columbine, wild strawberries, and dappled sunshine. Unfortunately, today it was also full of gnats. You had to wave your hand in front of your face to keep from swallowing them.

This is the headstone of the Pettijohn family. There are three small children buried here and a young man of 19. In these days, people hoped their children made it through infancy, they didn't expect it. I can't imagine living through the deaths of all those babies. We wondered if the young man died in the Civil War. There are many veterans buried here, some from the Indian Wars in New Ulm and from the Civil War. Someone takes good care of the graves and they all had stars and little flags today.

I was admiring these beautiful columbine flowers and turned a little to the west to see...

this tiny fawn napping in the grass. Regis isn't as close as it appears. He made sure to stay a safe distance and had the camera on zoom. He isn't very old as you can see...he barely came above the grass.

I thought he was soundly sleeping, in fact, we wondered at first if he was alive. In the picture, if you look closely, you can see that his eye is open. His mama was probably in the brush waiting for us to leave.

Better on the funk-o-meter

The dark cloud has lifted. It helps that the wind has stopped for now. We didn't get any of the violent weather but the tornado in Hugo and the one in NE Iowa were terrifying. Peter made it home safely from the concert he went to and we're spending a quiet Memorial Day by visiting the pioneer cemetery this morning.

There were baby birds everywhere yesterday. The robin in Tom's next was liberated sometime while we were there taking care of Gonzo and managed to make it out of the yard before he became pug lunch. On the way over there, we saw a grackle mama feeding her fledgling baby right in the road. What was she thinking? I know every baby bird ever hatched can't live into adulthood or we'd be over-run with birds, but nature is so cruel. It's a good thing I don't have to witness it everyday.

I have some planting to do this morning and that should be pleasant since the temperature has cooled down. I'll get my garden hopper out and take a cup of coffee and watch the birds while I dig. Regis is going to dig a new (small!) bed over by the fence which is the only sunny spot we have left. I bought quite a few profusion zinnias. They're one of my favorite annuals. The grow into a nice little mound and they bloom constantly with none of that boring dead-heading. I like low-maintenance plants.

We also bought quite a few basil plants. We like to use basil in lots of things and we like to make basil gimlets and it takes a lot of basil to make a few drinks. I'll post the recipe later in the summer. Basil is such a gorgeous plant, too...bright shiny green and needs little care. I bought some other herbs, too, but I don't cook with them as much as just walk by and pick one to smell.

I can't remember if I mentioned this here but I ordered two books on grilling vegetables. We like to cook vegetables on the grill but I read an article the other day that said how you do it really might end up with blackened and dried out stuff. Yup, that's what happens. We've tried sweet potato, peppers, asparagus, green beans, onions, cabbage, and baby reds. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good. Maybe the cookbook will help.

On to the holiday. Travel safely if you're on the road and watch the sky!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

the blues in the dumps

I woke up with a serious case of the blues today. I was weeping into the dishwater after breakfast and I don't have an explanation, at least not a good one. I could say it's hormones, the weather (which is turbulent), or some other reason but I don't think it's any of those. I think it's a force from outer space. It's weird when that happens.

There are storms moving into southern and central Minnesota. That always makes me nervous and I have to be gone for a couple hours this afternoon which makes it worse. I feel a little calmer in my own house. But I don't think it's that making me feel like this.

Then of course, add the guilt for not really having a good reason to feel like this, other people have terrible things to deal with and I'm just in a mood, and you get a great goulash of nasty mood.

I have nerve-wracking things coming up: a 250 mile trip, a portfolio presentation, things like that. But I don't think it's that either. Those kind of things make me lie awake at night and get stiff muscles in my neck but they don't make me cry in the tub. This is more than ennui, believe me.

I need a dark room in the basement with a hot tub, a bottle of wine, lots of candles, and some sad country music...maybe Dwight Yoakum. Something I can sing to. It's that kind of funk I'm in.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


It's been a full day. We went to the grocery store for a deal on pop this morning, then to Fred's to buy the same plants I buy every year: basil, parsley. profusion zinnias, marigolds, and some other herbs that I buy based on smell. I had a haircut this afternoon while Regis went to Walgreen's and bought me some lotion. We went to Prairie Pride and picked up the pork for Joanne's party then drove to LeSueur to drop it off.

We wandered on to Lexington to a favorite resort that we try to get to once a year. I asked if they had any unusual beers since Regis was drinking from a glass that advertised a Czech beer. The hickey-studded waitress said they had Leinekins Creamy Dark or Bud Lime. Yes, well, I guess. Bud Lime might be real beer but coming after Leinekins, I wasn't so sure. I thought being so close to Montgomery they might have something more interesting but it was not to be.

This resort does their own fresh mushrooms, onion rings, and green beans in their own very light and crisp batter. I don't know any other restaurant that does that. Most sell those frozen things that are something to eat when you're hungry but are not really food. The taste of the mushrooms is amazing after eating those rubber things they sell most places.

For the first day of a long weekend it was very nice but action packed. We stopped to see Peter at his dog-sitting job then came home to watch Starman. I would like to plant my flowers and herbs tomorrow but the weather sounds questionable. Bring your umbrella, Miles!


I went out to the garden to find two baby grackles sitting on the edge of my fairy pond. The babies are kind of cute; too bad they grow into those grotesque looking adults. Also saw that the peonies were blooming. It's a beautiful flower, sort of a tighter smaller version of the regular size peonies.

What a perfect day. I slept until 7 o'clock and can sit around in my robe until noon. The only thing I have to do this morning is to make sense of my paperwork. I loathe that job but I've been putting if off long enough. Gas is 3.85 a gallon here now so it's a good thing Regis isn't commuting too far. You have to sell a lot of beds to pay for gas at that price.

Here's some information on the old cemetery we like to visit on Memorial Day:



March, 1856 - Traverse des Sioux and St. Peter organized a cemetery
Assoc. purchasing 10 acres. Early Missionaries, pioneers, and Civil
War Veterans are buried here.

Rev. T. C. Williamson, first Missionary in this area and Rev. Stephen
Riggs translated the Bible, hymnals, and text books to the Sioux
language. Rev. Williamson after the Sioux uprising walked to Mankato
every week to preach to the Indians in prison. Many later became
missionaries to their own people.

It's a beautiful cemetery and an very interesting place. It's kept up pretty well
considering the age of it. I'll post some pictures on Monday.

Friday, May 23, 2008

seriously, dude

Amanda used that as a subject line on her post today and it does such a nice job of expressing my attitude lately that I stole it from her. Is that plagiarism? I think we steal things all the time from what we read and we aren’t always aware that words or phrases have crept into our language, although I was aware in this case and blithely swiped it anyway.

Yesterday I wrote about the word ennui. I know that words get into my vocabulary in steps…it’s not like one day I hear a new word and yippee I’m able to say it and use it in a sentence where it makes sense. I’ve read ennui many times, thought it a few times, and finally it fit in something I wanted to say.

Looks like a good weekend coming up. Regis and I have some relaxing time planned for this evening, I get a haircut tomorrow, I’m helping Joanne with a graduation party on Sunday, and Monday we are invited to a picnic at Bob’s house. I’d like to plant some flowers sometime and clean out the back porch. I know that has been on the agenda for weeks but agendas don’t always get done according to plan. Hey, it’s just a guide not a commitment.

I finished the Mayo Brothers book and started a book by Louise Erdrich, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse. It’s very good, so far. This spring I reread almost all of her books so I feel like I have lived with those characters. I didn’t read them in order, though, which isn’t really important except that characters who were dead are suddenly back to life.

I have two blossoms on my fern leaf peony this year. Mom gave me that plant ten years ago and I’ve moved it three times, trying to find a place where it could be happy enough to blossom. I might finally have it. It’s about 18 inches tall this year which is the tallest it has ever been before, too.

I bought some rabbit repellent because the rabbits ate my lilies off at the ground every year. I didn’t realize what it was and had my nose right in there so I could see what I was doing. Oh my, the smell nearly knocks you off your feet. The label says it is “putrescent egg solids” which can only mean rotten eggs. You don’t want to get that stuff on you, believe me. It is a putrid smell. A rabbit would have to be very hard up to eat something that smelled like that.

We got a new fax machine at school the other day. It faxes, scans, prints, and emails. You can email a fax to someone. How in the heck does that work? Larry just laughs when I express surprise and wonder how it works. I know it goes through the phone lines and I think it’s a digital signal but I’m not sure what that means, really.

Earlier in the week, I am embarrassed to admit, I was ordering chicken wings for Joanne’s party. That’s not the embarrassing part. I told John I needed wings for 100 people. He said he’d recommend 300 wings and he would give me the special price of 35 cents a piece. This is the embarrassing part: I said will that be about 900 dollars then? He said no, it would be about 90 dollars. I wish the math part of my brain worked a little better than it apparently does. After I thought about it for a minute, of course, 900 dollars would not make sense, but my initial reaction is that since numbers are random, then 900 makes as much sense as 90. This is why I am not a financial advisor.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hump day

Regis just left to buy refried beans. He has a taste for refried beans and had to have them tonight. Pica? On his way out the door he asked if we had a garlic roaster. This does not sound healthy for the environment. Somebody call the EPA and ask about superfund money.

I went to my last MSU class tonight. I'm sure 38 years is not a record but it's pretty darn good. I was not enthusiastic about this one but the 300 dollars I spent on it will make me feel better about the 1000 dollars I wasted on the last one. Armstrong Hall is just as boring and difficult to find your way around in as it was in 1970. And whoever did the signage is hitting the crack pipe. I should have taken a picture. I just did a google search thinking someone else over the years must have been amused by that but I guess not. The day I go back to do my portfolio presentation, I will take a picture and you will be amazed.

I tried to overcome my ennui today and organized all the random papers in my office so I could make sense of a "to do" list. Don't feel bad if you don't know that word. I've never used it in a sentence before and had to look it up to make sure of what it meant: a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction. You can find the pronunciation here. What the hell. A day when you can use ennui in a sentence is not entirely wasted.

Baby robin

Regis, Peter, and I were sitting in the yard last night watching the grill cook our burgers when a baby robin hopped through, very oblivious to us. He had real feathers but still some baby fluff and he looked very vulnerable. We didn't see a mama (who has been guzzling grape jelly) taking care of him as he went through the garden and into the neighbor's yard. It's 41 degrees this morning so I'm worried about him. He didn't look big enough to make it on his own.

Regis and I tried to watch the movie Hot Fuzz last night. Peter said it was hilarious but I warned him that we might not find it so funny and sure enough, we're waiting and waiting for the parts that are funny. I chuckled a time or two but there were no guffaws and when Peter left for Mankato, we closed 'er down and watched an episode of Seinfeld.

I don't have much imagination this morning, don't have much inspiration or gumption. Don't have much interest or concern or drive. What I have a lot of is apathy, disgruntlement (is that a word?), lethargy, and cynicism. That's not a healthy combination! Ok, maybe after a shower and some coffee we'll start the day with a new attitude. Then again...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Wild horses

These are the wild horses that dragged my ass to work this morning. We had such a nice weekend that it was very hard to go sit at a desk and push papers. I really need a big cardboard box to pile all that crap in so I can store it somewhere until my gumption comes back.

It looked like rain this morning so I tossed a couple bags of grass seed around the yard and we decided, after work, to go out for a cheeseburger rather than cook on the grill in the rain. While we were sitting at Patrick's, the sun came out and it's a gorgeous evening.

Geezer Row at Patrick's was well-populated today. The (geezer) men were all lined up watching the weather on the Mexican television channel. They aren't watching the weather, believe me. If there were hot chicks reading recipes, they'd all be interested in cooking.

I can't recommend enough, the book about the Mayo brothers that I'm reading. It's entertaining and fascinating. I'm almost done, which will make me sad, but I have a Louise Erdrich book, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse: A Novel, waiting. I got in the mail today, the only journal I subscribe to: Creative Nonfiction. This edition is called The Anatomy of Baseball which doesn't interest me too much but we'll see.

Yesterday I noticed the robins were constantly at the tray feeder and the grape jelly feeder. I wonder if this is typical for them and they're just worn out from feeding those babies. Tom said one of the babies from his nest was dead this morning and laying at the bottom of the tree. Maybe it didn't get enough to eat. It's a good thing we can't interfere with nature more than we do. We'd all be out in the woods sheltering baby turkeys from the rain and feeding the wild birds in their nests.

I hate going to bed when it's light out. I wonder how people stay up until dark in these lengthening days before the equinox. I can usually make it until 8, then make the excuse to go to bed and read. We bought solar lights for the garden Saturday and I realize now it's a waste of money because we'll never see them lit.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Remember the bird bath I bought at the Rock Bend Folk Festival last year? Here it is in the garden. On the right is a little fairy hovering over the water. She's hard to see.

This is the gazing globe I got for Christmas. It's so pretty I hated to take it outside. It's right by the oriole feeder so maybe it will attract some birds.

The apple tree is just beautiful. In yesterday's wind, it lost some petals but it's still gorgeous and still full of birds waiting for the feeders.

Red tulip.

Creeping phlox.

Minnesota redbud tree. It blooms before the leaves come out. For a small tree, the leaves are huge and shade a large part of my garden, so the sun-loving plants are gone and have been replaced by hosta and astilbe.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A day off!

And that's a big joke. I just go from a paying job to a non-paying job on weekends. We had a very nice time at the Hynes house last night, though. We sat on the patio for hours and talked and watched a pair of robins feed their constantly hungry babies.

Peter is on his way home today. He's spend a couple months in the basement suite and then will move on to his own apartment, we hope. I put all my winter clothes away and dusted in there so it isn't quite so dreadful looking. There's something about winter clothes in May. You'd like to put them all in a bag for the thrift store because you can't imagine wanting to wear them again, ever.

We're having a burger and hot dog patio party at the Hynes house again today. I sliced tomatoes and onions real thin, chopped an avocado, made some cucumbers in vinegar, and bought Hebrew National hot dogs. We saw them on the food channel and thought we'd give them a try. They're kosher and they answer to a higher authority. It says so in their ads.

Tiffany and Eric are coming home for the party today. We're also celebrating their engagement. They don't plan a wedding for a year so there's time to go nuts, but Tiffany wants a low-key wedding, maybe at the library. I love that idea. When she called to tell me they were getting married, I cried...of course.

Well, on to the weekend. The lazy part of the weekend.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

First grill-out of the season

Some people are of hardier stock than us but we grilled out for the first time tonight. It was about 70 degrees when I got home so I sent Regis to the store for potatoes and cabbage. I had a few carrots, an onion, and a bag of chicken wings. My favorite was the carrots. They cooked in a foil pouch for a while then Regis dumped them into the wok with the potatoes so they got nice and dark.

We had a glass of wine, watched the birds, criticized our compulsive yard freak neighbors, and had a wonderful time. The apple tree is in bloom and the feeders are full of birds. The little yellow finches are in line but we haven't seen an oriole yet even though the grape jelly is waiting. A weird bird feeder phenomenon: In the winter, birds will not eat the hulled sunflower seeds out of the big feeder. Do I throw them out now? They get wet when it rains but it was a cold winter and they couldn't be bad, could they? This has happened the last few years so if anyone has an answer, I'd appreciate it.

Speaking of yard, we have some grass on the edge by the shrubs that's about 8 inches tall. I want it all to be like that: It's going to seed, it waves in the wind, and it's a beautiful shade of green. Who started this well-manicured lawn concept anyway?

I met my friend Jill for lunch today and brought her retirement bell, her cards, a little present, and my speech. We both cried, such saps. It's such a gift to have good friends like Jill.

I'm still reading the book about the Mayo brothers. It's getting to be like the book Oranges (one of the best books ever) that I read a couple years ago. So much of it is so fascinating that if I can get someone who is a tiny bit interested, I'll tell them all about it. Regis says he'll read it but I bet he won't. It's a commitment, this book. Ms. Clapesattle tells a lot of anecdotes but I've gotten interested in the lives of the Mayo brothers so it doesn't seem like non-fiction anymore. Next time we go to the Mayo Clinic I'm going to carry it around under my arm with the cover out. I'd like to know if there are practices started by the Mayo brothers that they still ascribe to today, like always discussing their cases. More people should read this book.

I need a haircut. I usually like how Patrick cuts my hair but it just won't get up and dance this time. It lays there like well-behaved hair. Tame hair is just not my style.

Dog medical report

It was Jane's birthday yesterday. Here we are in the front seat of her red Mustang. Regis is packed in the back seat. We drove up and down the country roads visiting the places we used to go. Happy birthday, Jane!

Kramer went in for his grooming and well pet visit yesterday. They asked if I wanted the senior blood panel to check his liver function. I said no, he feels fine. When I picked him up they recommended he have his teeth cleaned and that he see an ophthalmalogist for his cataracts. I declined that, too. Regis said they're probably down at the court house getting an order for protection and placing him in foster care. We obviously can't be trusted.

I went to the teacher's retirement party after school yesterday. I remember sitting there as a young teacher thinking those retiring people looked so old. They don't look so old anymore. I spoke for my friend, Jill, who retired from the district but not from teaching. I cried, of course, and wondered aloud who let me volunteer to do this. Most of the women got weepy and even a few men. It's a poignant passage.

Regis stopped last evening to tell us about his haircut. He's looking for ways to limit trips to Mankato so he found a barber in St. Peter to cut his hair for 14 dollars rather than going to the fancy places in Mankato for 35. He loved the old school barber shop below street level and said Nate is a true character. (Charlie, did this guy buy the shop after Glen retired?) The little quip on Nate's card says: Get slicked up.

We had one whole day without rain yesterday. Today doesn't look so good. I don't mind the rainy days because the sunny days have been killer for allergies. I just checked the allergy index on Accuweather and right next to that little monitor is something called a frizz index. What the hell. Is that hair frizz? Does it mean humidity? Then I demand an index for people with fine hair...a limp index.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Smelly house

I made lo mein and marinated tofu last night for dinner. This is one of my husband's favorite meals but one I can easily never eat again. It leaves the house with an intense smell that doesn't go away for days. A nasty reminder.

We watched part of the first season of Feasting on Asphalt last night. I thought it was the River Run from New Orleans to Lake Itasca but it was the east to west trip. Still very entertaining. The weirdest food was something they ate in Indiana (I think)...brain sandwiches. A deep fried slab of pork brain. I don't think I'd be willing to give that a try, thank you very much. I did learn to eat nuts in Iowa and I don't mean the legume variety. They made little baskets of deep-fried animal testicles and served them as an appetizer. Hey, they taste like turkey!

Our poor grungy looking dog goes in for a haircut and a bath today. It's more like a shave, nothing very fancy but they trim his nails and clean him up so he smells good. That means by this afternoon, he'll be looking in the yard for something in which to roll. He likes going to the vet but he can't be around other dogs. They put a note on his chart: Kramer does not play well with other dogs. He also can't see anymore so he bumps into things. He doesn't leave the house on his own so I guess he's safe.

We have the district retirement tea this afternoon. It always makes me sad, so many good people that I won't see around school anymore. Last year I added it up and it was over 200 years of experience. I offered to say a few words about my friend Jill, who is retiring from the district but continuing in her other job. I'll try to get through that without weeping. People who aren't weepers don't understand. It isn't always sadness that makes me weep but this big ball of emotion that needs a way out. I know it makes people uncomfortable but it can't be helped.

It's a busy Wednesday. I'll be glad when it's over.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Felonious assault

I have been looking over Regis' new benefit information. Among the many things that amuse me are these:

The felonious assault benefit. It a felonious assault results in a guy's death or dimemberment, there is an additional benefit if the assault is not committed by his spouse, a member of his household, or a fellow employee. I suppose those are statistically the most likely to commit a felonious assault upon a guy.

The coma benefit. If a guy is in a coma within 30 days of an incident and in said coma for at least 3o additional days, there is an additional benefit.

The repatriation benefit. If a guy dies outside his home state or country, this benefit pays to get your remains home.

So, you can imagine that I wonder if you are the victim of a felonious assault perpetrated by a stranger outside of Minnesota and are in a coma for 45 days then die, does it pay triple? I suppose some would think this is morbid wondering. I think it's just finding humor in insurance language.

I'd say the allergy meter is way up today. I'm having a most unpleasant attack (not the felonious type) of sneezing and coughing. Most unpleasant.

I read something today like this: I thought I was getting more patient as I got older but it turns out I just don't give a shit. I thought that was hilarious.

Regis is over there writing on his blog. I think it's something political because he looks agitated. I try to ignore that stuff because it's like horse racing. The minute you start to care, your horse falls down. Or baseball. The minute you start to care about the World Series, there's a line drive to left field and a triple play. And I have no idea what that means.

Well, off to bed.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day to My Mom!

Here's my mom, Shirley, on her 76th birthday. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I survived house cleaning

I got up before 7 and commenced house cleaning.

The word commenced makes me think of the time I was going to put a rock garden in the back yard and I succumbed to the ads to Call Gopher One Before You Dig! How did I know they were going to conduct the Spanish Inquisition about my plans? The woman I spoke with wanted to know if I planned to use dynamite and where the nearest intersection was that would be accessible to an ambulance. What the hell, lady, I said. I'm making a rock garden. There is no dynamite involved. Then she wanted to know when I planned to commence digging. That is the exact word she used...and she said if I didn't plan to commence digging within 48 hours I would have to call back and give them the information again...about the dynamite and the ambulance accessibility. I started to laugh and said maybe they should screen calls so people like me wouldn't have to answer such ridiculous questions. I'm not making this up.

So, the house cleaning was fine. I don't see dirt so well so it happens often that I look back later and see things I missed. The same happens with paint so don't ever ask me to help you paint. I ran the Spot Bot a few rounds on the carpet. That's pretty disgusting. Anybody who is considering a dog ought to come over and take a look at the dirty water that comes out of that thing before making a final decision. Laurel, are you listening?

Other than the house cleaning it was a nice day. Tiffany came down to work this evening so we went out for lunch and spent some time visiting this afternoon. Ella came over to play for a while and now Regis and I are contemplating our evening plans. We had to make a list and vote on what we wanted to do. I think it's a symptom of my seasonal allergies that I'm indecisive. The winner was to watch the movie Arthur and order a pizza. Bet that makes you wonder what the other choices were.

While we were eating breakfast this morning, Regis got another call from the liquor store in Mankato. This was another manager who wanted to apologize for not having the wine we wanted. Really, this was a twelve dollar bottle of wine and only two dollars off. We aren't talking Dom Perignon. This was not a heinous crime against humanity and it was not worthy of five phone calls, one on a weekend. We got a new ad today and I said we should go over there, find something else that isn't available and send them an email. It takes a twisted mind to think of something like that.

We had a rose-breasted grosbeak and a male cardinal in the bird feeder at the same time this afternoon. Also a few grackles and a sparrow, but I guess they have to eat, too. The yellow finches are lined up in the trees waiting to eat at their feeder. Maggy is back from Dubai next door and will be our alarm clock for the next few weeks until she adjusts. Maggy's the dog not the human. And that's all the wildlife news from our house.

This is a picture of the fishing opener on Upper Red Lake. It's snowing. I remember hearing a story about a guy fishing in a snowmobile suit and he was struck by lightning and it melted the zipper shut. Now, that is a sign. How can this be fun?

This is the weather map for Minnesota. The blue areas are snow. One would hope that it melts before it enters the air we breathe but the picture above says not necessarily so. That northern blue area is right about where Upper Red Lake is. People who live in temperate climates do not want to come here. It's cold. It snows in May. The mosquitoes will be the size of Apache helicopters. Miles, I hope you still fit into that Patagonia snow suit, pal.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Crossing the finish line with one leg tied behind my back

I made it to the end of the week but just barely. I don't remember if I mentioned this or not but I've decided I have seasonal allergies. Sunday night I was so miserable I was sure I was coming down with some horrible flu or at least a bad cold. It never materialized but I continued to feel crappy until I got some Zyrtec. I felt better with that but still was so tired I could hardly drag myself around. What a whiner.

It's a beautiful afternoon but the rest of the weekend is supposed to be cold and rainy. I have to clean the house tomorrow...not my favorite endeavor...and I guess some of our off-spring are coming for dinner on Sunday. Regis says he is in charge and I only have to decide what I want to eat.

Work has been stressful lately as the ends of school years are. I called a friend of mine after school today and said what if it never gets better, what if every year we just get tired of each other's BS earlier and more intensely, what if we lose interest more and more every year. And I think, it occurs to me just now, that I have had this thought before, too. My theory before was that one day you just stop showing up and nobody misses you for a while and finally they ask where you are. Funny.

A guy from one of the local cable companies came around last night peddling cable television. He wanted to know what we had for cable service and phone. When I said we didn't have either service he looked at me like we were the Flintstones. Once in a while, I miss tv. I miss the cooking channels mostly. Alton Brown mostly. This week I watched a couple old dvd episodes of Law and Order. I really like that show but a steady diet of it makes you think the world is full of scary people and you should stay inside with your doors locked.

This cute couple from Waseca, about our age, won the lottery this week. I wonder how long it takes to get the actual money. They said they weren't planning to quit work but I think it would be hard to work up the motivation if you had that kind of money. I think I would leave a message in the middle of the night. Don't look for me in the morning.

We went out to school to pick up a book that I forgot and Regis wanted to stop at the grocery store. I wouldn't go in because I have on my twenty year old Eddie Bauer shirt. It's so worn the seams are about the give way and it's baggy and ugly but very comfortable and always my first choice after a long week. But inevitably, when dressed like that, you run into people on their way to some fancy dress ball. So I let him go it alone.

While I was sitting in the parking lot, I thought about how writing on a blog has changed the way I think. Often during the day, something will happen and one of my first thoughts is about how I would write it and I think about the interesting details and rehearse writing it in my head. I don't think I ever sit down to write without having thought about at least some of the stuff beforehand. Hard to believe when it all seems like such drivel in the end. Some of the best stuff, I forget before I get the keyboard. Believe me on that one.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Oh my achin' backside

This week has been nine days long already. It started with the marathon yardwork on Sunday, then the advent of seasonal allergies, a night in a bad bed (grand, my ass), almost three hundred miles on the road, and a lot of damn cranky people. I feel like I can hardly drag myself around by the time I come home. Regis really likes tofu so I put some in the marinade tonight but we realized it takes a long time for the flavors to seep into that rubber, I mean tofu. So we got some really unhealthy chicken at a franchise that will remain nameless. It's against the laws of nature to say the name of this place in the same paragraph with tofu.

One of the big grocery stores in Mankato sends out an ad once in a while. My favorite summer wines was on sale in the last brochure so Regis made a special trip over to get a bottle. The manager said they don't carry it because they don't have room and seemed to think that was reasonable. Regis got a burr under his saddle and sent a letter to the store, telling them how much we like so many other things about their store, but not this particular thing: That they don't sell the wine that they picture in their ad. Well, he got three phone calls today: One from the vice-president of la-dee-da, one from the chairman in charge of wine in ads, and one from the new manager of the liquor store. They didn't really want to do anything for us, which was fine. We were just making a point and I guess they heard it.

My neighbor gave me five little potted plants today. Two tomatoes, two zinnias, and an Italian pepper. I think he was trying to make up for borrowing my tiller and leaving it out in the rain for a week. My other neighbor with the lawn tractor came over and mowed my yard. I delivered a few dirty looks to my husband and son, as in, "Go deal with that SOB" but they wouldn't. We like to have a small carbon footprint and here is this guy blowing enough carbon to light New Delhi just to mow my boulevard. It wasn't long enough to mow yet anyway. Yard freaks. Harrumph. Oh yeah, then he brings over a gas-powered blower to blow the clippings off my sidewalk. That is not a high enough priority in my life on which to waste petroleum products.

Somebody is going to have to take it up with this guy and it might be me. I realize he's trying to be nice, really I do. I'm just nuts about this kind of thing.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

mom's day & spring

Ah, spring arrives in Minnesota.
A daffodil has been blooming in my garden
for a week because it's so cool and wet.
A nice side effect of the horrible weather.

A grumpy face in the garden.

One red tulip.

My favorite flower pot that looks like GW.

Lilies pop through the ground
and you can almost see them grow.

My first baby on her second day with me.
Tiffany is 23 now.

Peter and Tiffany. It was hard to take a picture of them

Bob and Emily.
Our grown-up kids.

Regis and Amber.

And my little Ella.
Reasons for Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I didn't and I haven't

I didn't clean the porch on Sunday. We decided since the city was coming to pick up yard waste on Monday, we would clean the yard and the garden instead. I always underestimate how long a job like that takes and how out-of-shape my muscles are. I think we started at 10:00 and I finally limped in at 4:30 to take a bath. We had a waist-high pile of grass, leaves, and branches running the length of the house. We only have three trees so I don't know where all that crap comes from but there it was.

Monday we left at 6 a.m. to be at the famous M Clinic in R for more tests. We parked in the Kahler ramp and hiked over to the Clinic. This was not easy since the muscles in my legs and arms were crying our for mercy. One test after another through the day and finally a meeting with the doctor. I seemed to be coming down with something and fell asleep in the chair in the waiting room until I woke myself up with a sharp snore. Always a nice touch.

When I wasn't snoring in the chair, I passed the time by playing What Not to Wear and I eavesdropped on conversations. It's not like it takes that much work to eavesdrop as there are people everywhere and if you're curious about humans, it's interesting. Grand drama played out right before your eyes. I won't repeat what I heard...that would be impolite.

The doctor, who told us he was the second best diagnostician in his class, said he cannot diagnose this so far. We suspect this might be a contest where the doctors get points for ordering tests, like they did on Grey's Anatomy. My favorite test was the EMG where two doctors, three technicians, and a mighty machine poked Regis with needles for three hours (and what will this cost???) to come to the conclusion that the nerve problem (neuropathy) that what makes his big toe not move up is not the cause of the weight loss but the result. It comes from crossing the legs too much.

After we checked into our room, we wandered downstairs to Martinis in the Kahler where we had a wonderful dinner of Kobe beef sliders, green olive crostini, and a prime rib panini. The beef of the Kobe sliders comes from cows who are raised on a diet of beer and sake and they get daily massages to relieve muscle stiffness. They were delicious and not very expensive but I had two beers, Stella Artois, for which I paid 11 bucks each. Ouch. I should look at the price first.

In the past 24 hours, I've taken four naps and slept 12 hours through the night with no help from Ambien. Even for a champion napper, this could be too much.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

More weekend activity

We had dinner last night with Young Reg's in-laws, Peggy and Mike. Very nice people and lots of fun. They live in Grand Rapids so their stories are about snowmobiling and ice fishing and moose. Actually I don't remember them telling moose stories but it sounds so up north.

Patrick's was packed...looked like a wedding party, maybe some prom-goers, lots of college students and parents, and the general riff-raff to watch the Kentucky Derby. Ella and Emily stayed home because Ella is developing a bad cold.

We stopped at the liquor store on our way to pick up a couple lottery tickets. Regis found a pile of t-shirts for a buck each so the men at the party all got party favors...Jagermeister t-shirts.

We also celebrated Amber's birthday with a present of Bath and Body Works products and a bottle of wine. That could mean a really long bubble bath and a big glass of pinot grigio. Nice way to spend Sunday.

I'm almost done with the furniture rearranging around here. I made an ad to sell the piano which I kind of hate to do. I always wanted a piano but in the years since we've had it, I've taught myself two songs, Lavender's Blue and For He's a Jolly Good Fellow. Quite a repertoire. Nobody ever plays it and that's not a good life for a piano. It should be somewhere it's appreciated.

I think I'll clean up the back porch today.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Cool and windy

We didn't get any snow last night which was a relief but the wind has battered the house all day again. Poor birds can hardly land to eat on the feeder. At least the sun is shining.

I'm going to Rochester with Regis on Monday. He has tests and appointments all day until late afternoon, then another early morning appointment. I decided, because the whole process is stressful, that rather than driving home, we would stay over. So I made a reservation at the Kahler which is right across the street and connected by the subway system. They have a room that's $3000 a night (the square footage of this room is twice that of our house) but we got something much more modest, the list of amenities for which included "toilet". Hmmm. That makes you wonder if there are hotels that don't include one. Maybe it should make me wonder what kind of room one gets for peanuts in an establishment that has rooms for 3 grand.

Ella came over this morning with her daddy, Uncle Reg, Glen, and Tom. The men moved furniture to the storage building while I made a boatload of pancakes and bacon. Ella has a box of toys here but she prefers my basket of measuring cups and spoons, the dog leash, and a small cooler that she packs with shoes. Who needs expensive toys? She wanted to know where Betty was today and why she didn't come to play. Last time Ella was here, she and Betty made paper crowns, cut with a real scissor, and sang a song about a kitty. Ella loved it.

I bought a new printer. There was nothing too much wrong with my old printer but it was almost ten years old and I needed a new scanner. I thought it might make sense to buy a machine that does both things. It might make sense but this is much more complicated than my Epson and I can't figure out how to make the picture quality better. It's a Canon so you would think they would make it easy, but no. If you look inside this beast (it has a stick to hold the hood up like a car) lights flash like a runway or a space ship. Regis has more patience with this kind of thing than I do so I might go back to the Epson.

It's Saturday afternoon and I'm not doing a darn thing that could be considered constructive. The sun is coming in the window, I'm sitting here pondering stupid stuff like printers and the price of hotel rooms, and listening to music. I guess that's valuable stuff even though it isn't cleaning or yard work. My neighbor had one his gas-powered implements going this morning by 9. And so it starts.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Ah, Friday night

We went to see some friends tonight and had a pan of left-over lasagna from a church dinner and several bottles of wine. The rain pounded the windows on the east side of the house, then on the north side. I'm not sure what that means, meteorologically, but it can't be good. We had a good time considering all the wine and beer and Tom's rapier wit. While it's painful sometimes to have friends who remember your husbands and boyfriends from 30 years ago, it's also nice to remember, and to remind them, that they (Tom) dropped their pants in those days, when the party was over.

We're home now, looking at the rest of the weekend. I have to get up early and prepare for the furniture movers. I rented a 10X10 storage unit and I'm moving some excess furniture out of the garage and the basement. I've warned my kids that they have until the end of August to claim what they want, then it's going to the curb. The price of the moving help is breakfast... pancakes and eggs and bacon for twenty. I'm not sure this is a good deal.

I've been angry lately and I'm not sure why. I've thought about job stuff, spring cleaning stuff, getting old stuff, yard stuff, and maybe a combination of any of those. Don't try to give me any bullshit about life is good. I know that but sometimes I'm still pissed. It's just the way it is.

It's a cold monsoon out there

I don't know if cold and monsoon are mutually exclusive concepts but you get the idea. It's freezing cold and there is a torrential rain coming down. Someone looking out the window with me swore they saw snowflakes. I don't doubt it a bit. The bars will be full tonight.

We've made it through another week of testing at the famous M clinic in R. We had a good laugh last night over the fact that Regis has a EMG scheduled because he happened to mention a sore toe which also resulted in him prancing around the doctor's office on his toes and heels wearing a hospital gown. I would have laughed out loud if I had been there. I said he better lock his lips and be careful what he scratches while he's there. If they get a hint that anything is amiss, you're in for an expensive test. They may not discover what's wrong but they will certainly find out what's NOT wrong.

The city is picking up yard waste on Monday so we planned to rake and trim trees and pick up sticks over the weekend but...whew...this weather lets us off that nasty hook. I know my neighbors with the anal retentive yard habits are chewing their nails but the lazy ones among us are enjoying the extra naps and reading time.

Well, time to move on into the weekend. More news as it develops.