Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Of all weird ironies, we got a phone call last night from Mary Rogotzki, Regis's nurse when he was in the hospital nine years ago. She took such good care of us both and we've kept in touch at Christmas time all these years. She's going to be at St. Mary's tomorrow visiting a friend so she'll find us and visit for a while. We always felt like she was our angel.
I slept fairly well on this hard bed but my shoulder is killing me. Probably fromt toting along all the stuff I might possibly need yesterday but didn't. I'm going to need a massage when I get home...I've got that shoulder issue, zingers in my back on the other side, and a stiff neck. What a mess.
Sherry's coming over today to spend some time with me, and kindly invited me to stay with them tonight. They have a new dog, a Jack Russell terrorist as she called it. Oh no! It could be Bert reincarnated. I'll have to tell them a couple stories about Bert.
Well, off to the races today. I'll post later when Regis is done being cut.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
So, that's the story for now. Oh I forgot the good news. Regis passed his cardiac stress test with flying colors. The cardiac doctor said the stress test is harder on your heart than surgery so there should be no problem. In the stress of the day, Regis snapped at me about his advanced directive so I told him I was going to call a priest for last rites when he took a turn for the worse, then have a huge coffin and a Lutheran funeral. All the things that would really piss him off. I suggested he not do anything to irritate the doctor who is going to cut on him or the woman in charge of advanced directives. Good advice, eh?
More tomorrow. The have wi-fi everywhere here so I could probably sit out under a tree and write a post to my blog.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
We cooked hamburgers on the grill yesterday for Peter and Tiffany and their dad whose birthday was the day before. Tiffany has always been a good eater and now that she's pregnant I try to have fruit and good things around for her to eat and some to take home. They told a few stories about their growing up years, and I was amazed at what they remembered and how different their memories were.
Ella joined us about 3:00 and kept us entertained until about 9. At 8:00, the clock chimed and she said, "It's 8:00 and we forgot to go for a walk!" I think it was an accident that she got the time right; she's only 2 but we laughed. I tried to get her to go for a walk earlier but she didn't want to wear her shoes and she wanted to ride in our stroller. She didn't seem to believe that we didn't have one...maybe it's like the television. She can't believe we don't have one of those either. Regis took some cute pictures so I'll try to post the slide show at the bottom.
In the picture where she has her hand by her ear, she's using a rock she found in the garden for a cell phone. I love it! She has plenty of old cell phones to play with but still has the imagination to use a rock. She dialed my neighbor to see if we could come and see his fish pond. She also liked playing with a stick and a piece of garden art, a fat round frog that she called her baby. Who needs expensive toys?
Ella likes books and loves to have me read her favorites. I think it's interesting that she knows when a book is too long or complicated for her. She stops paying attention and tells me to get another one. Two of her current favorites are Little Golden Books that Tiffany and Peter had and also loved. Some of the pages have tape and they're very simple stories but we read them over and over.
We're trying to organize our stuff to leave for Rochester at 5 a.m. on Tuesday. Regis is mostly doing internet research and I'm mostly doing lists. We've decided if he had been a car, they would have recalled him after the surgery he had in 1999. It seems like lots of people have to have that procedure revised. He says, all in all, he has no regrets. Back to my lists. I have a list of things to do tomorrow, a list of things to bring, a list of people to call, and a calendar. Regis will probably throw his stuff in a backpack and be just fine. I like to anticipate every possible circumstance and try to be prepared for it. It does not make for light travel.
One of my neighbors was using a sander this afternoon. He had on ear covers to protect him from he noise but he didn't provide those for the rest of us. The sander made a high-pitched whine that almost made the house vibrate. Very annoying. I had to take a nap on the couch to steel myself against it.
My other neighbor, the good cook, brought over a plate of fried green tomatoes last night. I've seen the movie but never tasted the real thing. They were very good. Here's a simple recipe:
Fried Green Tomatoes Recipe
3 medium, firm green tomatoes
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup milk
2 beaten eggs
2/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs or cornmeal
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 Cut unpeeled tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper. Let tomato slices stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place flour, milk, eggs, and bread crumbs in separate shallow dishes.
2 Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Dip tomato slices in milk, then flour, then eggs, then bread crumbs. In the skillet, fry half of the coated tomato slices at a time, for 4-6 minutes on each side or until brown. As you cook the rest of the tomatoes, add olive oil as needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
One of our neighborhood dogs has cancer and only about three weeks to live. She's getting to do all the things she liked to do but usually wasn't allowed. She eats scraps from the table, gets her own bowl of ice cream, and lays in the sun for hours. It's like Molly has a bucket list.
Speaking of movies, we watched Spiderman 3 the other night. If you are ever tempted to rent this movie, back away from the shelf and call help. It was the worst acting and the dumbest plot ever. I wanted to give it up after five minutes but that's how I am. Regis is willing to persist, thinking it will get better. It didn't. He may be out of commission for a few days so I put To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything on the top of our Netflix queue.
Well, maybe more later.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
On the way home, we had a near-miss with a forty-foot grain bin going down the road. This is not a picture of the actual event...the grain bin we almost hit was MUCH bigger (it took up the entire road and half the ditches on both sides) and it was on a county road. I started to write about it but it involves too many vehicles and too many ridiculous things but no hazard lights, no flags, no nothing to indicate this was ahead of us. Peter, who has little tolerance for this kind of malarky, looked out the window and gave a gesture that said what the hell. All the people in the pick-ups just smiled and waved. Oh, country life.
Regis and I will be going to Rochester very early on Tuesday. He'll have a couple of cardiac exams and we'll meet with the surgeon later in the day and if all goes well, they'll do the surgery on Wednesday. We have a reservation at the Fiksdal Hotel, right across from St. Mary's and I'm planning to stay until at least Thursday and maybe Friday. I'll try to post news here as soon as I have it. I'll have my cell phone and there are computers all over the place there. No hunting for a pay phone like in the old days.
Remember the days of pay phones? We drove by one today and Peter said he'd used one once. It's probably been about ten years since cell phones and computers took over communication. I still have a phone card in my purse that's probably ten years old and maybe an antique. Now it's hard to imagine our lives without computers and cell phones. Everybody's got 'em...my friend Retired Larry has a cell phone and my mom's moving on to her third computer.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
We're glad there's finally a scheduled date and it's going to be done, but it's the weekend of Jane's retirement party and I'm very disappointed that we can't go. We had reservations at the Sleep Inn in Mount Vernon, were going to drive down with Tom and Betty and the gift gazebo, we were bringing the table linens, old friends from my early teaching days in Cedar Rapids were going to be there, I had written a poem about our years of crazy friendship.
Of course, I've frittered away the last three weeks and now I'm going to have to get busy. Peter and I are going to Canby today to see mom and won't be back until tomorrow. No more posting today...
Monday, July 21, 2008
Regis had the day off so we went shopping. We rarely go to stores anymore without a specific mission in mind. We were looking for a beer can chicken cooker and found a nice one at Home Depot. Also a chimney charcoal starter that will be a birthday present for a friend of ours who starts his charcoal with gasoline currently. Whoosh. We worry about that. We stopped at Kohl's and Regis got a pair of nice khaki shorts and I got some stemless white wine glasses. The sales were great. At Gordmann's I bought a a set of appetizer plates that I really didn't need but they were two dollars and I figure it's an excuse to have a party. New wine glasses and appetizer plates.
I bought a little white blanket for Tiffany's baby. They're coming down Saturday and I wanted to have a present for her baby. She's so excited. She wants her grandma to make a blanket as she still sleeps with the one grandma made her when she was a baby. Bless her heart.
We had dinner at Mazatlan and enjoyed it as much as we always do. They're so polite and friendly and the food, authentic Mexican (like we would know...a Polish guy from Philadelphia and a Norwegian), is delicious.
I realize I've gone on and on today. Hey, the title says spellbound by our own imperfect lives. Oh, and I got a haircut today. And I forgot about the sin of envy. I'll save that one for tomorrow.
Mom's getting a lot of press lately because it's her birthday month. This is a picture of the 70th reunion of the Twin Valley High School class of 1948. (Almost did the math wrong and wrote 1930.) She's the second from the left in the first row. You might have to click on the picture to be able to see it but she has a ring of flowers in her hair from the Scandinavian Street Fair in Fargo. At the reunion, they were supposed to stand up and tell about themselves and she did, reluctantly, then asked if they were done with the obits so they could have some fun.
Re: the radio problem in the previous post. Regis took the thing apart as men are wont to do, and it was a Duracell battery that leaked. Leaked is not the right word...more like split open and gushed it's raw materials out all over my table. Now there's a deal for you. Needless to say, the Duracell folks have received a scathing email from the pen of my husband.
An outdoor wireless radio that Regis bought from some lame internet company, aside from not working, left a big puddle of oil on my stone-top table. Now we have to make some poultice to try and draw the oil out of the stone. Yeah, that'll work. I think while we're mixing up the poultice, I'll mix up some hex juice for this internet company that sells junk.
My dog has an earache and has to go to the vet at 1:20 this afternoon. We'll be bombarded with requests for permission to do senior blood panels and teeth cleaning and sonic toe nail polishing. It's not easy having a dog anymore.
Regis is trying to get his surgery set up with the MC. They've been helpful but the insurance company, has not. They told him this morning they have 10-30 days to give approval and they've only had the request since the 10th of July. I guess that means they have 30 days, they'll take 30 days. And besides, they may need some more information, not mentioning what that would be. Even though he gave his member number five times, I don't think they gave him any information that they couldn't have given if he had walked in off the street to wax the floors. This was not personalized information, is what I'm trying to say.
I read once that in a research study on anger, the #1 source of anger for people who were surveyed was dealing with insurance companies. When Regis had heart surgery, I got into a spat with a woman at his provider (as they say) over the charges for a private room. I said we didn't request a private room and it wasn't a private room because there were two beds. Then she asked if I had tried to find a roommate for him. Tried to find a roommate. In a hospital. I need Louis Black. You can't express the outrage a person feels over a stupid question like that in writing.
I'm going to take a nice warm bath and have a cup of peach tea. Maybe it will soothe my neurons and I'll come out all zen-like and tranquil.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
As you can see, I'm being put forward by a grassroots movement for President. To hell with action plans!
I've spent all day monkeying around with video, trying to get my pc to recognize my video camera, trying to make the damn thing import video, and trying to upload the stupid video to youtube so I can post it here. I finally quit. It's not easy being technologically hip.
I see now that you can upload video from your mobile phone. Loud piercing scream. I can't even tell you how many times I typed in those stupid mixed up letters. Those are not written for anybody with less than 20/15 vision. Holy shit, Batman.
The video was Regis doing the first thirty seconds of The Evolution of Dance which might not be funny to you anyway. And since you can see the real video of the E of D in the background, I'd probably get brought up on copyright violation charges and spend the next five years in the pen. If the food was good and the mattress wasn't too bad, maybe I could cope with that.
I'm remorseful about all the cussing and the complaining but it's been a stressful weekend for some reason. I've been snappish about a lot of things: the paint chipping off the front door, the video camera, the heat and humidity, sleeping issues, and the dog's earache. I think the arthritis index is high as well as the frizz index, either of which is apt to put you over the edge.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
My mom's Lutheran Church in Canby has a little food stand where she works during the Yellow Medicine County Fair. She's the morning egg fryer. Mom sent me a note this week that said:
I am a nasty chef and when people ask for different version of eggs I growl and tell them they get them like I make them. No scrambled, no over easy, no soft, no hard, just plain fried eggs. Good help is hard to find.
I thought her comments were so funny I told her I wanted to publish them and I had her take a couple pictures of the stand. You can see it used to have a walk-up service window but now has two window air conditioners. Mom told me to zoom in and see that they still sell coffee and lemonade for fifty cents. Just no over easy eggs. In fact, click on the picture and check out the menu. That's pure Midwest.
We're in (Is that IN or UNDER?) a tornado watch. We planned to cook on the grill but Regis had to go out and cover it so it doesn't get wet if we do get rain. Miles, when you go to the Caribou Gun Club for that wedding (eeuuuwww...could they change the name for one night?) make sure to check out a storm shelter. If they have a large walk-in cooler, that would be the place to go. Don't let on to the other guests though, that it's where you're headed or you'll have lots of company. Tell your mom to get a table close to the cooler and then just saunter over slowly when things start to pop. Take a jacket and put something in the door so you can get out when it's over.
Now to top it off, we are under a tornado watch until 10:00 tonight. I hate that. The weather is really brutal. It's only about 80 degrees but the humidty is 78% and the dew point is 72. It feels turbulent. I think I'll go in the bedroom to read.
Friday, July 18, 2008
There's something about working with a whole chicken that's unappealing. They look like they have arms and legs, if you know what I mean. I like my meat to have a less than human appearance.
Peter went to The Dark Knight this evening. I just got a text from him (hip, eh?) and they got tickets but had to wait in line for an hour. It's the Batman movie if you aren't hip.
I went for a walk this morning since I've been trying to force myself to do that every day and I stopped to visit with Bill and Deb a couple blocks down. They have a sweet little Scottie who sat and looked thoughtfully through the porch rails while we visited. Bill told me about his son's dog, the spawn of Satan and a Patterdale terrier, and as I left, this dog arrived and chased me down the street while Bill stood back and hollered. "Marley!" and "See what I mean?" Yeah, I guess.
Regis has to go to his quarterly meeting tomorrow. They always do some goofy inspirational thing and tomorrow, they're doing The Evolution of Dance. If you haven't seen it on Youtube, you must check it out. It's a damn hoot. Regis has to do the first 56 seconds. I think he's lucky being the first because people will think it's a novelty and no matter how bad he is, they'll laugh. After about 4 minutes, it will be lame as hell.
His 56 seconds includes snips of an Elvis tune, Chuck Berry, the BeeGees, and the Village People. He thought about costumes but I said it would be distracting and I am the stage manager, after all. I'd call in sick if it was my gig but since it's his, I hope somebody tapes it. Video here late tomorrow.
I tried to take a nap today but Peter was right behind me working on his financial aide stuff for fall and he mumbled and cussed and carried on so I woke up and helped him. Anything involving the government and money can't be simple, of course, so I don't blame him for being frustrated.
That's all the news for Friday night.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
My brother Pat's birthday is today. I can remember all the birthdates of my brothers but not their ages. I know I'm the oldest. Steve is the youngest and he's about 9 years younger than me. Pat's in the middle so he must be around 50. (Mom says 51.) Happy birthday to you, Pat!
This picture and the one following are from the family reunion at Ottertail Lake in June. Nobody took many pictures, but Deb took a few. This one is beautiful.
Here we are after Saturday's dinner, going out for a ride on the pontoon. There are a bunch of people on the pontoon and a bunch more on the beach. We've gotten to be quite a multitude.
Here's our current weather map, Miles. Big rain and storms coming. You might have already had some in Owatonna. It's starting to rain here now and you can see the red stuff is coming right over us. By the way, I saw the pictures of Career Day at the daycare center. Keep your eye out for something that isn't too dangerous and where you can make enough money to support your toy and diaper habit. Another thing: maybe when your Mom & Pop get into their dotage, they'll want to live in your basement, so keep that in mind, too. The things a baby has to worry about these days.
I had a nice visit with my friend Jill yesterday afternoon. Her home is so restful. There are interesting things to look at everywhere, places you can rest your eyes. We always have a lot to talk about and this time it was grandbabies and life circumstances and how we end up being who we are. It was deep for a summer afternoon.
Late afternoon, we were invited to Tom and Betty's house for a burger and hotdog cook-out. They have a lovely patio and deck that Tom built himself. They're so good to guests, providing cold drinks, a pool of cold water for your feet, snacks, and good laughs. Tom likes to cook and read recipes, too, so it's always fun to see what he's cooked up.
Last night Tom used a recipe from Cook's Illustrated that called for grinding up boneless short ribs and beef tips together to make burger. Sometimes we overdo it on side dishes but last night we just had burgers, hotdogs, lots of sliced onion and tomato, and chips. It was perfect. In the end, Tom brought out strawberry and blueberry sauce over shortcake that he made from scratch. Delicious. Made from scratch. What a funny expression.
I suppose this rain isn't helpful to the county fair folks across the state but probably better now than evening. They just button up their little stands and trailers and get an extra nap. We need the rain but not the hail.
I've just finished rereading two of Jim Harrison's novels: True North and Returning to Earth. They might not be to the taste of everyone because there's sex, cussing, violence, and death. Here are a few lines so you can see what a wonderful writer he is:
- We are both staring at the moonlight on the lilacs out the screened window. Their odor is nearly overpowering and it's as if we've both given in to living memory of earth. Moment by moment it's lilacs.
- Heraclitus was wrong when he said you can't step in the same river twice. You can't even step in the same river once except for a microsecond.
- The danger of civilization of course, is that you will piss away your life on nonsense.
- ...in a culture in the seventh stage of rabid consumerism the peripheral always subsumes the core, and the core disappears to the point that very few of the citizens can recall its precise nature.
This post has taken me two cups of coffee and a bowl of cheerios to write. The thunder is still rolling and I'm still sitting in my nightgown. If I get dressed, that's like a commitment to do something constructive.
Here I go...
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
It sounds more entertaining than the Nicollet County Fair, let me tell you. That hay bale tossing contest sounds interesting. I suppose it's a weight and distance thing like the tractor pull. They have one of those at our fair but I don't think the participation was so good this year. Maybe the cost of gas was a factor.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Regis wanted to cook chicken on the grill but I have an aversion to heat and didn't really want to sit out there. I had no gumption and I was grumpy. Then I remembered an old trick my parents used to do in the days before AC. I took a big white dish pan out, filled it full of icy water from the hose, and sat with my feet in it. Amazing how cool it keeps you. (Now really, does that seem rube-ish?) Regis kept filling the tub with cold water while I watched him cook and tote dishes back and forth. The chicken was delicious and I stayed cool and calm.
I picked up a book on the sale shelf at the library today by S.J. Perelman. I didn't have much of a clue about him but I think I thought he was P.J. Wodehouse. Whoever that is. It's a book of letters that Sid wrote to other people in the 40s and 50s. I guess he was quite the wit. Since he's long dead, I might be able to borrow some of his material, in the plagiarism sense. Accidental plagiarism, of course. You know how those words just get in your head.
I took a long nap today. I thought it might make me less cranky but it didn't. There aren't many pleasures I enjoy more than a nap in a dark, cool room on a hot day. I read for a while, watched the ceiling fan whirl, then went to sleep. I'm sure it will mess with my night sleep but what the hell. I have quite a pile of books to read.
I have a piano for sale. When I was a little girl, I envied my friends who had pianos and who learned to play even though they hated their lessons. When my kids were little, I was determined to have a piano. They both hated piano lessons, it was a constant battle, and they didn't learn to play very much. I've taught myself a few things but it's not a method I recommend. I think for the most part, I've learned bad habits and only have a two-song repertoire: Lavender's Blue and For He's a Jolly Good Fellow. It's not enough to keep a piano around for but I'll be sad to see it go.
More coffee, shower, errands, work, bills....it will be a full day.
Monday, July 14, 2008
I'm in the midst of a do-over: Returning to Earth. It's kind of the sequel to True North by Jim Harrison, or at least it happens after that book. The characters are so vivid in both books that my mind wanders to them during the day. I've read True North a couple times, too, and Regis said the only other book that I've gone on and on about is Oranges by John McPhee. My family members actually got so tired of my facts about oranges that they told me to shut up about it the summer I read it. Did you know that all the orange trees in Florida are grafted onto the roots of a rough lemon tree because they're more disease and drought resistant? John McPhee is a writer without equal...he can make anything interesting.
My boat anchor laptop is down to 51% of the battery. That means I have about 30 seconds until it shuts down.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
If I could draw cartoons, I'd draw a cartoon of two turkey vultures floating over our house tonight. We'd just finished a barbecued pork loin dinner and were lounging in our Cabella's chairs. I told Regis that one vulture said to the other one: I'm not sure I can get that woman off the ground but that scrawny guy looks like he'd be easy to pick up. Now, that's funny.
We spent all day today outside. I got up from time to time and watered some plants, picked up sticks, pulled a few weeds, but mostly we just sat and watched the clouds roll by. Regis sat with his knees sticking out in the skin cancer zone all day and didn't get one lick of sunburn. I sat in the shade and burned the hell out of one arm. How does that happen? Don't I have any of those things that people at the equator have?
Our neighbor with the red shed, "Get Your Yum On" Paul, came over with a sample of his barbecued pork and black bean burritoes. Man that guy can cook and it's so nice that he does most of it outside. Regis made a brined pork loin that was delicious but I have to say that first he exploded a blender full of pina coladas on the kitchen floor, then he opened the foil on the pork and poured the juices all over the floor. Bless his heart. Men should only cook outside over dirt and should not be allowed anywhere there is a floor that has to be mopped. I'm going to put a sign up for the vultures.
Our neighbor dog Waldo (looks like a black Great Dane) has become an efficient hunter in the last few weeks. He discovered a bunny nest and he waits quietly until a bunny comes out and then he makes short work of the future rabbit. I know our neighborhood can't support all those rabbits, as I've noted before, but I don't want to witness the slaughter of the little ones. Bert used to ravage rabbit nests too, and I hated him for it. When he was done he would prance into the house like he's just tangled with a lion instead of a rabbit that weighed less than a pound. At least cats hunt in the dark of night and keep it to themselves.
Bert didn't like cats either. One day I spotted one under the birdfeeder so I knocked on the picture window to shoo it away. It didn't move so I opened the front door to shout at it and Bert bolted right through the door. The cat streaked across the lawn, Bert in hot pursuit. I thought there was going to be a bloody battle but the cat made it to the front porch of the house next door. Bert, feeling vindicated, came prancing home, pissing on every vertical thing taller than a blade of grass. Nothing like treeing a cat to make those male hormones flow.
I was thinking last night about do-overs. There are books and movies that were so good the first time that it would be nice to be able to read or see them again for the first time. Not like I don't enjoy them the second time, but nothing is like the first time.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
The lovely days just go on and on this summer. Yesterday was hotter than hell and we had some violent weather last night, but no damage. Just a lot of Cumulonimbus Mammatus clouds and heavy rain and lightening. The party was fun...a retirement party for an old friend and colleague, Jim. Lots of good stories to go with the weather!
This morning, Regis and I got up early and headed out for our weekly grocery shopping trip. When he worked weekends, I did all the shopping very randomly and irregularly but now that he comes along, he's taking this very seriously. We have a spreadsheet with prices, ads with things circled, and a bag of coupons and a calculator. It's not so bad with the weekly menu but sometimes I just can't summon enough brain cells to care about the linear footage of wax paper. Now, that's funny.
As soon as we got home, we drove up to the OK Corral for lunch with Cousin Deb and Larry. Here we are posed in front of the Constitution or something. The food wasn't great but we had a good visit and some laughs. They were flying back to AZ today after a week of galavanting around Minnesota and Wisconsin. I just checked the MW definition for galavant and these were the choices:
2 : to travel, roam, or move about for pleasure
They were galavanting in the second sense. LOL.
We're on the back porch and the breeze is lifting the daylily blooms. They're nodding their heads and drooping because they last one day and the day is almost over. There are five orange ones and one bright yellow that's my favorite. I didn't plant the yellow one and all of a sudden one day, there it was. That's why it pays to be cautious in your weeding endeavors. You never know what will bloom in an unexpected place.
Friday, July 11, 2008
After dinner, Regis convinced me to try the yard for a while. I thought it would be too hot but it was pleasant. From my lawn chair, I could see the tops of five or six trees in the neighborhood. I bet I saw a dozen orioles...or the same few orioles multiple times. I brought out the binoculars and tried to spot a nest but they must hide those pretty well. There were at least two adults and two juveniles, who I think are yellow and not orange. Maybe the yellow ones are just a different variety of the orange ones.
Looks like storms here again this afternoon, Miles. Take your umbrella to work. Yesterday, we only got a few minutes of strong winds. No rain, no hail, no damage unlike what they had in places north of here. We could use some rain but not that other stuff. I haven't had to go to the basement once yet this year so that's a good sign.
We like to grill in the summer but I don't have much imagination when it comes to vegetables so I bought a couple new cookbooks: The New Vegetarian Grill and The Complete Book of Vegetarian Grilling. I should try one new dish a week.
Regis went outside and took some pictures of my garden during his lunch period. Bless his heart. I can't find the pictures of the night we lit the candles. What a surprise. I lost a lot of stuff in the transition from mac to HP. My fault for not understanding. I thought if it was one place, it was there but apparently not true. It has to be here AND there or it disappears completely. I lost a lot of writing which causes me more angst than the pictures but what the hell that's life so I try not to think about it.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
This is my baby, Tiffany, with our grand-daughter Ella. Tiffany just called to tell me that her pregnancy was confirmed by a doctor tonight and her baby is due in February. In true Tiffany fashion, her next statement was, "Oh my God, my car just died. I'll call you back!" Nothing without drama. We're very happy for her and for Eric. She'll have a beautiful baby and she'll be a wonderful mama.
There was a fat baby robin on the back step this morning when I went to the door to let Kramer out. Uh oh. Baby robin's parents were on the garage roof carting worms to the little bugger in rapid fashion. He just sat there pooping big blobs of purple stuff and holding his mouth open wide. Peter asked what kind of parents would drop their baby into the domain of Kramer who will eat any small thing moving. I think with birds it's sort of random and accidental where the babies get dropped. On second thought maybe not unlike humans.
We have a party to go to Friday night and I signed up to bring an appetizer. We take our cooking very seriously so have thought about what would be easy to tote, easy to serve, not messy to eat, and not some pedestrian dish like onion dip and bag-o-chips. We had a great party for Regis' 56th birthday party with all our kids last week and every last morsel of edible food was consumed. I think there were two wieners left after two big racks of ribs, two dozen chicken legs, and massive amounts of cowboy beans.
One of my sweet neighbors stopped over last night with a little apron I had given her daughter, Ivy, when she was a little girl. She thought maybe Ella would like to wear it. While we caught up on news: pregnancies, engagements, deaths, new jobs...I thought how sad it is that we live right next door and we know so little. How does it happen that these big events in our lives happen and the people we live across the street from don't know? It's pitiful. We think about the world being such a lonely distant place and here's a good example of how we don't pay enough attention to the people closest to us. I'm going to have a neighborhood party next weekend, right under the birch tree, with a cooler full of lemonade and a crockpot full of something, and maybe a pie. We don't have a fancy patio and there might be weeds in the garden but it doesn't matter. I'll even try to forget about the lawn mowing and the barking dogs.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
There are things blooming in the garden: monarda, coneflowers, lilies, and things of which I do not recall the names. I'm going to have Regis take pictures tonight at dusk as it's the best time for garden pictures. The pictures will make it look like Martha Stewart's garden and if you happen to go by here, you'll see that's not true either. I embrace weeds as well as moles and rabbits. Sometimes weeds yield a pleasant look. I don't like things in rows and I think the Monet effect of plants running into each other is nice. Last year one night, I lit dozens of candles in the garden and Regis took pictures. It was just lovely.
When I was in college, I spent one hour in a philosophy class. The instructor said we were going to talk about whether the chair was really a chair or if it was a dream. I don't even remember the discussion but I never went back and I dropped the class. What the hell does that mean anyway? I was thinking about truth and non-truth and it made me think of this.
Of course, this was 1970 and things were strange then. I had a psychology class where, on the first day, the instructor never got out from under a table on the stage. The second day, he stood up and said if your name was on the list, you got an A. And he left. We looked at each other, shrugged, and left. Today, I might be inclined to squawk.
I'm desperately seeking a swag lamp that looks like this:
I want to keep my dining table in the living room and we need more light. It's ok in the summer but by fall, we're going to have to learn Braille eating. If you have one of these laying around your basement (in the room with the lime green shag carpeting and the Dave Clark Five posters) let me know. I'll have to buy this one on eBay if none of my friends come up with one. I'll pick it up and I won't reveal on my blog that you still had it after all these years which of course, begs the question, why I want one. It's just my weird taste, that's all.
I made pico de gallo this morning. I'm going to make chicken tacos for dinner and Regis is making frijoles. I think I'll call Peter and tell him to pick up his contribution on his way home. And I'm not talking Taco Johns either. This is a meal that cries for an icy cold beer.
I filled the bird feeders this morning. Someone told me the other day that orioles won't eat cheap grape jelly which of course is what I have, believing that birds can't tell the difference. I haven't had an oriole since we went the cheap route. Can this be true? I moved the suet feeders to the back yard where the catbirds can enjoy them. In the front they just attract those nasty grackles.
I love this description of the catbird: A secretive, but curious skulker of dense thickets, the Gray Catbird is heard more than it is seen. Its rambling song contains imitations of other bird songs, but the characteristic "mew" that gives it its name is not an imitation and sounds only vaguely cat-like. First I moved the suet feeder to the step and the catbirds would come in pairs. One would stand guard on the sidewalk while the other one ate. A curious skulker of dense thickets.
Our backyard neighbor, Norm, has planted a dense and wild thicket bordering our yard. It gives us both some privacy and attracts birds like the catbirds. There's a couple bushes that we called bird berries when we were kids and we thought they'd kill you if you ate them. I bet we did and apparently they didn't. Norm's a good neighbor and hasn't done anything to annoy me. I bet he's glad.
I've been thinking of the June bug and the little finches that stay here all winter and the little rabbit who seems to live under the coneflowers in the garden. It's amazing that all those fragile things survive. I was troubled by turtles this year, as always, and I wished I didn't have to see them trudging across the highways. I just heard a bird squabble back in the thicket and I'm sure it's grackles attacking a nest. I walked out there and stood in the grass with my arms crossed and gave them a dirty look. It didn't seem to deter them much.
Monday, July 07, 2008
After a very muggy day, all of a sudden a bout 5:00, the dew point dropped, the sky cleared, and a nice breeze came up. We had a couple very nice hours sitting in the shade in our new Cabella's chairs.
One of our distant neighbors was doing some cement work as we lounged. He had a giant saw that made this horrific noise and raised a fierce cloud of dust. Our closest neighbor had a cement guy over there scoping out the situation, apparently in preparation for major sidewalk revision. I said one of the things that really annoys me about summer is that some people feel this compulsion to do loud home improvements. I should live in a town that doesn't require sidewalks and curb and gutter, maybe there would be less of that kind of thing. I suppose it would be hard to go to the library or order a pizza in a town like that but it would be quiet except for the folks whooping it up on Budweiser. Now that's funny. Another option would be that we get on the loud home improvement kick ourselves but I don't think that's likely.
We've moved from the front yard to the back porch. You can only expose your industrious neighbors to so much sloth in one day without being afraid they'll call the county on you. There has to be an ordinance against this kind of lazy behavior.
I'm on a cooking strike tonight so Regis ordered a pizza, thinking that the frozen variety was not appealing. I like a frozen pizza once in a while. For some reason he gave them a phone number we haven't had for two years so now we have to keep jumping up to see if they're here. The reason for that is we have a door bell that only works intermittently. And who said we were lazy?
Sunday, July 06, 2008
I posted an entry about this guy last year. He ties all these balloons to a chair and flies through the air. He lands by shooting the balloons with a BB gun. You have to read the whole story to believe it. It's not the kind of thing I would ever do, being a chicken, but it's the whimsical kind of thing I really admire.
This is a kid from Owatonna who works in a fireworks stand called Vapor of Smoke. I would never work there, being a chicken, but I admire the name of the place. Thanks, Annie!
This is the 35W bridge in Minneapolis. This is one of those things, like airplanes and birds, that's just beyond comprehension. How do they even begin to plan something like this, and then, most amazing of all, it meets in the center like it should.
This reminds me of a story. After the tornado, our front walk was destroyed. I had in my head that I wanted a paver walk so I looked in the Herald and called some dude who advertised that kind of work. He came right away and gave me an estimate of $1,000. Everything cost a thousand dollars after the tornado. I think they didn't know what to say and when they met up for coffee in the morning, that was the agreed upon price. This guy said he had a PhD in botony, as if that made it worth all the money.
So, I ask this guy when he can start. Tomorrow he says. Uh oh. Should have been another red flag, but there was so much messed up and the idea of getting something done fast was just too inviting. He shows up and commences to build this paver walkway. Now I don't know much about laying walks like that but I know you should use a string and a level. He had neither.
After a couple hours, I'm in the house visiting with my neighbor when the PhD knocks on the door. I have a problem he says. What's that I ask. If I keep going, he says, the walk won't meet your door. And I can see he's right. The walk takes a pretty sharp veer to the right and he's going to miss the front door by about six inches.
This is what you get when you hire a botonist to lay a sidewalk, I guess. Drive by my house, or better yet, walk by. Close one eye and look down that paver walk. It's crooked and it's wavy enough to make you seasick. The guy is still around here practicing his art, so call me for the lowdown before you hire anyone to do any brickwork.
Friday, July 04, 2008
The Democrats made a good showing in this parade, too, and several of them came over to shake hands with Regis. It isn't like they know him...he just seems to be a magnet. Reggie says it's because he's a tree-hugger. Ha! Al Franken's son came over with a guy carrying a sign that said, "This is Al Franken's son, Joe Franken." I said I want his job. Sign carrier.
One of our favorite units was the Lutheran Summer Music Camp. It was a large group of young Lutherans marching together in matching t-shirts and playing kazoos. It was wonderful and weird and such a Garrison Keillor moment. Then they started to dance and Joanne had the best line of the morning: I didn't know Lutherans could dance. She didn't mean can as in an ecclesiastical permission kind of can but in a shake your booty kind of can. I said normally they can't, being an example myself.
There's a tiny slide show at the bottom of this post of some parade pictures. If you want to see the pictures bigger, you can go HERE!
Apparently my damn duck didn't win the race, Paul. Harrumph.
The rest of the day was fun as well...picnic at Bob and Emily's, steak on the grill at Tom and Betty's house, a swim in their pool, relaxing in the cabana.
After being outside from 9 this morning until now, almost 9 in the evening, I'm ready for bed. The tractor pull, which of course, saves the biggest and loudest for last but even at that, I doubt I'll make it for the fireworks. Kramer is half scared out of his little wits already.
Happy 4th of July to everyone!
Congratulations to my brother Pat and his wife, Helen. They won a trip to Hawaii!
Today is Independence Day. On this day in 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted the Declaration of Independence, and the United States officially broke from the rule of England.
Happy Birthday, USA!
Regis and I were on a little mission and we ran across these two enterprising kids with a lemonade stand. They explained how it folds up and fits on a cart that they pull from their house down the street. We were their third and fourth customers.
This is what Washington Avenue looks like on the 3rd of July. People come out very early to claim spots on the boulevards and in the parks. You can't see it in this picture but some of the blankets are held down with a steak knife in each corner. Regis is amazed that the whole process is so orderly and nobody messes with the stuff overnight.
More blankets and chairs by the library.
One of the most fascinating parts of St. Peter's history is the strong circus presence this area had through the Engesser family during the early 1900s.
This year's St. Peter July 4th celebration will honor the legacy of George Engesser and the rest of his family. This year's parade and old-fashioned picnic in Minnesota Square Park carry the circus theme with several special events.
The Engesser family will be on hand en masse to march in the parade as Grand Marshals with several dressed in circus garb. One of those who will be riding in the parade will be Grace (Engesser) Paquette, 98, who was married to George Engesser's brother Henry and was part of the traveling circus. Grace, who still resides in St. Peter, will ride in a golf cart in front of the rest of the Engesser clan.
Pictures and stories to come later!
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
I was going to stop at two music stores to hang signs on their bulletin boards about my for sale piano. I didn't have any trouble with the first one but the second one was on a frontage road bordering Highway 14 where they were doing some road work. I got into the right lane but they had dug a big trench down the center of the road so there was no going back, no turning right, and no getting into the music store so I went on up the hill. It gets better...keep reading.
I stopped to ask a road worker how in blazes I would get out of there. He pointed and gave a long-winded explanation that I knew I wouldn't be able to follow but I thanked him and on I went. Road construction workers give some real disgusted looks when you get in the way of their diggers and scoopers, let me tell you.
I ended up somewhere behind Loyola High School and the nun's place. I couldn't find a way out and kept hitting dead ends, and of all things, the nun cemetery. Dead end...nun cemetery...get it? It was like a bad science fiction movie. I didn't see a person (a soul) but there were lots of cars so I knew people had driven there and therefore, there had to be a way out.
I think I have figured out how the Catholics increase their fold: trapping Lutherans with the old road construction ruse. I was desperate and ready to do anything, conversion included, when I found a tiny road down a steep hill that led to the Thompson Ravine Road. Whew. To hell with the piano.
We're watching No Country for Old Men. What I'm doing is not exactly watching, as I peered through my fingers for most of what I saw in the first five minutes, then left the couch and moved across the room. I don't like to see this ugly side of humanity. Unless the sounds get worse, I'll watch it from here. Those Coen brothers have some weird shit in their heads.
The sounds are bad: gagging, retching, broken glass, gun shots, squealing tires, heavy breathing. My 4th of July chicken is on the table so when I look at the television, I bend down a little so the chicken's head on the tv screen. I recommend it.
There have been some great stories in the paper lately. One about a week ago included a picture of a couple in their 80's posed in an old wooden canoe. They had a wind-up record player on one of the seats that he had used to court her when they were young. I can't copy the photo because it's in Flash but you can try to see it here: WOODEN CANOE.
The story today that caught my eye was about a 74-year old man from Fergus Falls who caught a 46-pound muskie in a river. He said it was the fish of a lifetime. Here's his picture and here's the story. That's my kind of news and that's some fish.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
We got home and there was a messy pile of debris under our birch tree. You could see it was the remains of a nest and there was a small blue spotted egg in it. It had to be a grackle. It's exactly the kind of nest you'd expect from a beady-eyed bird like the grackle: woody stems and no structure. If you've ever seen the nest of say, a chipping sparrow or a finch, there is a world of difference. Those are birds that take nest building seriously.
We were going to babysit the Hynes/McGraw dogs this weekend but apparently they are going to accompany T&B on the trip to Wisconsin. Our job has been eliminated. We've been downsized. Thank goodness the benefits have been preserved intact: access to the bar, the gazebo, and the pool. It's a tough economy. We'll have to wait and see if the market (for dog sitting) has legs.
We have a six-inch piece of sidewalk in front of our house that has been identified by the city as hazardous because it sticks up higher than the rest of the sidewalk. It's painted white to alert us. There are maybe 20 of these hazards on ours and the neighbor's sidewalks. What to do? I called a couple of cement people today and they laughed. They only deal with big jobs like malls and storefronts and they said they have to rent the equipment to do that. It's a mystery. I thought a cheap fix would be to get a wire brush and scrub the white paint off. Ta da!
I looked in the Home Magazine and there is a company that does something called slab jacking or mud slabbing or something like that. From the ad, I got the idea that they pumped something under the sidewalk to encourage it to align with the rest of the sidewalk pieces. What the hell kind of machine would you need to do that I wonder. It just doesn't sound very scientific. It could open up a chasm the size of the San Andreas fault.
If you read my blog, you know I don't pretend to deal in fact but I don't want to look like a complete dope either so sometimes I look things up. (I only remember "the market has legs" because Mr. Butler said it once.) I checked it out on wikipedia and what worries me about the future is that some middle school kid could do a google search for "economy" or "market" and write down some of the crap I've written here and put it in a report thinking it's true. The possibility for perpetuating BS is just endless.
It's my mom's birthday today. She went out for lunch, out for dinner tonight, and has a breakfast party tomorrow. I think she has a more active social life than we do.
I know from my own kids that the gene pools of our parents take a pretty good hit when it comes to blaming someone or something for our bad traits. It's in magazines all the time: this is genetic and that is genetic and they never talk about things like sense of humor or being good with numbers. I'd just like to say that all my good traits come from the gene pool of either my mom or my dad and the bad traits are anomalies. Who's to say that there aren't free-floating genes out there that land on you and take root like pollen or dust. Little alien bits of selfishness or laziness or gluttony.
Parenting is a very hard job that you think will be sort of over except for the good parts once your kids are adults. Not so. It's a lifelong miasma of fun and joy but also work and worry and pain. You don't appreciate the job your own parents did until you're old. I appreciate it today. Happy birthday to my mom.