Sunday, July 31, 2011

weekend in pictures

Regis and I spent the weekend in downtown St. Peter at the Konsbruck Hotel. Lovely place. We stayed in the Melanie Room which had a gigantic whirlpool tub. I walked over to River Rock and got us two iced lattes and this cool dress. Here I am mugging for the camera and showing off my muscles.

This is Patty, one of the bartenders at the Cedars Grille where I had a few glasses of wine.

Sam and Patty can be pretty entertaining. I think they say the same about us.

Fish Fry, the band and not the food, played on the patio Saturday night. We had a good time but I hate that song about the guy who jumped off the Tallahatchee Bridge.

Sam, Jessica, and Jessica's friend.

Having some fun.

Me in front of the Pearly Gates, one of St. Peter's tourist attractions.

Regis on the patio at Cedars Grille.

Friday, July 29, 2011

the week whizzed by

It's been an interesting week. I can hardly believe it's Friday and the last weekend of July. Where did the month go?

It's been hot but for the most part, that doesn't bother me. If I had to work outside, maybe it would. I've been riding my bike to work on the days it isn't raining and I enjoy that...and I walk to the bank and other errands around town in the morning as part of my job. I haven't worked in my garden much this summer, I admit, but mostly because of the bugs, not the heat.

It makes me think of a southern movie when it's so hot and sultry outside. I have a vague memory of a movie where three women are sitting under one of those trees with low-hanging branches talking in hushed voices and drinking lemonade but that's all I can recall. Is it possible to search google with only that?

There it is. Google is amazing. Great movie. I'm going to order it from Amazon because every few years, I remember something about it but can't remember the title.

I was telling Regis about a woman I work with who was trying to find a plastic clip she had seen in a different restaurant. I said there must be a way to upload it to google and do a match. Turns out there is an app for that. Of course there is. Google goggles. Check it out. What a whacky world.

I better get moving into the day. I went to the Pulse this morning and listened to Reverend Raven on my iPod while I lifted weights and did one-legged squats to strengthen my thighs. Ha! Good way to start the day on both counts.

Monday, July 25, 2011

dogs and stuff

Terry, our dog groomer, tells us that these dogs are "high energy". We don't want a pet like that.

I worked ten hours today which is way more than I want to work in a PT job. WTF.

I'm having a glass of wine and going to bed. That makes a short day, my friends.

weekend in south dakota

Mom invited my four siblings and our spouses for a weekend in a rental home on Lake Cochrane in Gary, South Dakota. We left Friday afternoon and got there in time for dinner.

Check out Gary's website and find the photo gallery and look at events. They have a cattle drive right down the main street. For a small town (about 200 people), they know how to have a good time.

It was a beautiful home with lots of spaces to spread out and visit: big living area, big kitchen area, two or three small decks and a large patio down by the lake. We had a great time. I wish we could have a time-lapse of the whole thing because we would eat a meal, sit together for a while, the crowd would disperse, the circles would shift, and we would come back together.

Here are the photos...or at least some of them.

The reason I included so many of the shots of the whole family is that I couldn't tell which one was best. Someone was looking off or talking or moving in every picture, usually Pat. Ha! It was like an elementary school photo shoot. At least nobody was giving the finger.

Regis and I spent some time on the patio in the afternoon when we got home. We missed our patio! It's so shady and inviting. We had stopped at one of our favorite places in New Ulm for lunch, Plaza Garibaldi, even though we weren't especially hungry. We ate a little bit and took the rest home for dinner. Travel is exhausting, you know.

Joan and David got a new dog, a labradoodle, which awakened the need Regis has for a dog. I like dogs and I wouldn't mind having one but I don't feel the need like he does. He's doing the research on the breed and on kennels in Minnesota. I liked the golden doodles but the prices are like the puppies are made from mink goats and spun gold. Good grief.

Here's a labradoodle. Isn't that a pretty face?

Regis asked me if I was sure I could stand a dog this size. I think the temperament is more important than the size except that I wouldn't want a Great Dane Doodle which they do make. I'd like a slow-moving, gentle, dog.

I had a terrible night's sleep. I don't know if it's Sunday Psychosis or what. Every time I woke up, about every 90 minutes, River Rock was right in the front of my brain. Last Sunday night I went through the same thing and it worked out just fine.

Even if you don't do anything most of the weekend but sit around and talk and take naps, travel is hard. We got home late afternoon with a load of dirty laundry and no groceries. Sigh. I see a busy Monday night in our future.

Regis had a great dream the other night but I never got a chance to write about it. At River Rock, we're talking about doing evening entertainment a couple times a month. His dream was that I brought in Neil Young, sold the place out, and had a very excited crowd. When it was time for the show to start, I walked up behind the register and brought out a microphone and a boombox and played Searching for a Heart of Gold. The crowd was unhappy. When I announced the next song, A Man Needs a Maid, I booed loudly into the microphone. Where does he get this stuff?

Well, on to Monday. It's Culinarians Day today and I have pictures of the cooks to post in the shop. I had bigger plans but didn't get them executed. Unless you know of someone who can organize a flash mob or do a singing telegram, that is. I found a whole list of songs about food but I can't sing. If you live in town, stop down a buy a flower for your favorite culinarian today, courtesy of our friends at Mary's Flowers.

Have a wonderful Monday and make it a good week.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

early thursday morning and the plague of capital letters

I wore closed-toe shoes to work yesterday and they made blisters on 4 of my toes. Don't wear shoes without socks is the lesson, I think.

We had Bob and Emily and three little kids over for dinner last night. It was nice enough that we could cook on the grill although Bob, who works outside in the heat all day, was more than happy to enjoy the AC comfort of the indoors. I brought home a loaf of River Rock's Buckwheat Bread and the kids loved it.

I have to sit down and think about the capital letter rules for my River Rock writing. I find myself sprinkling capital letters randomly here and there. If the cooks give me a menu item like this: Signature Something or Other, then I tend to keep that as it's official and capitalized name. I'm not sure how that should go. Ideas? Yeah, I should have has all the answers.

My doctor, who has taken care of me for 15 years, is retiring. I'm glad for her and sad for me. I've had about four doctors in my whole adult life and I always feel a little abandoned when I have to switch. Dang.

I still have a pile of thank you notes to write for retirement gifts and such. I am a slug. I finally wrote a letter of recommendation for a teacher friend but he had to call and nag me twice. Not good. I hope nobody else asks me to write any education-related stuff because that language has already been replaced in my head with words like savory, seasonal, and organic. Unless they want to be described in those terms, they should probably leave me off the reference list.

I have been searching my dusty and vacant shelves of memory this morning for something I heard about yesterday, adults feeling sad about things they said or did as children. I read something in the last month related to this emotion but I have the tiniest twinge of a memory of it...can't recall where I read it, who wrote it, or the exact details. Snap.

I'm reading a wonderful book called To Siberia by Per Petterson. He wrote Out Stealing Horses and when I read it, I immediately turned to the first page and read it again. This book is like that, too. It's a book of painful things like suicide and Nazis but the writing is so lyrical that you feel like you're floating down a lazy river. Beautiful sentences. The article in the link is interesting as a family tragedy influenced his writing after 1990.

I'm ready to go to the Pulse but I'm not too motivated this morning. Ah, hell, motivation is a myth. Nobody feels too motivated. You just do it. I had an interesting conversation with my friend Kris yesterday about counting. She said counting makes you crazy and feel guilty about not doing enough. A zen way of thinking.

We were invited to dinner tonight by some young friends. We met them on the wine trip two years ago and have enjoyed their company. It will be fun.

Off to start the day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

tuesday night already

Aw, snap.

I had to come home and take a nap again.

We sat on the patio and had an ice-filled glass of wine. I watered the pitiful plants. They were grateful.

We're back in the AC but will probably go out again soon. We seek the sun.

Monday, July 18, 2011

monday and a crappy night of sleeping

We had a busy day yesterday. Regis mowed the lawn while I pulled two huge bags of weeds. My garden gets a little over-grown this tie of year and I like to cull the herd so the things I really like don't get buried.

After a shower and a tiny nap, I went to the coop to pick up some essentials and of course, some non-essentials. Tiffany and Elliot were coming for dinner so I bought him some mac and cheese, a little fruit bar for dessert, and some tabouli salad for myself.

We cooked strip steaks and chicken on the grill for dinner. We had wings at the Fishtale Grill that were seasoned with Old Bay seasoning. I found a recipe and we sprinkled it on liberally. Very tasty. We also had grilled peppers, onions, mushrooms, and chipotle aeoli.

Elliot likes to walk around the block so off we went. By the time we got home, we were wringing wet and not because of our rapid pace. Just too hot.

I went to bed at my usual hour and fell right to sleep. I woke up some time later and thought it must be close to morning. Nope...10:15. That's how the rest of the night went. Torture. I felt like the guy on the right.

Monday is a big day at the coffee shop. Lots to do and a meeting at the end. I better pace myself.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

plans and no plans

We had a plan for yesterday that went awry at the last minute, then we had an alternate plan that didn't work out either. So the next thing was a phone call from Kathy, my high school friend. Did we want to meet for dinner? We did, and decided to combine dinner plans with some research and development for the September wine trip.

The fist vineyard we thought we would visit is in Lonsdale, Prairie Woods Vineyard. They have a nice website and it looked promising from that. We drove up to the address and found only a place where a vineyard used to be. The vines were knee deep in weeds and it obviously does not welcome visitors. Too bad.

Down the road we went to Montgomery, then New Prague where we had a nice lunch at the Fishtale Grill.

The next vineyard, Crofut, was ok, but not exactly what we were looking for in a tour destination. We met Jack and Kathy there, did the tasting (sweet wine!), and then took a bottle to the patio to sit in the warm breeze.

This is the building that houses the little bar where you do the tasting.

Here I am in the gift shop. Bought a couple little things, of course.

Regis enjoying a cigar in the heat of summer. You can see the vines in the background.

Porta pot. Ugh. Right next to the chicken yard.

They did have this beautiful turkey who enjoyed gobbling for us and showing his stuff.

They had one wine we liked but for the most part, like most Minnesota wines, too sweet. Prairie Blanc was my favorite. Drink locally.

Here's Kathy and about half of Jack. He's from New Jersey and a real hoot.

We were about the only people in the place and who shows up but Ron and Anna, friends from New Ulm, who were on their way to a concert in Prior Lake. What are the chances?

About 5 o'clock, the breeze went down and the air became stifling. We went over to Belle Plaine, had dinner at Suzette's and lingered a long time over the wonderful food. We stopped at the OK Corral for an after dinner drink and lingered there for a long time telling stories and laughing.

All in all, a good day.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

aw, snap

Have you ever noticed that when you try really hard to remember something, you squint your eyes and look off into the distance?

Regis and I were trying to remember why we wrote a check for 60 dollars on June 7th to a person neither of us know. We both squinted and looked off into the distance.

I got this:

Regis got a little whisp of smoke out of his ears and the answer: chickens.

i love my job

My new job has been a bit of a challenge in that there are a ton of things to learn and a lot of details to pack into my aging brain. But after ten days, I can say I am going to love it. These are some of the reasons:

  • I love coming down the street and seeing the little neon coffee cup in the window of that old brick building. I love the sandwich board with the fish flag.
  • I walk into River Rock in the morning and the lights are low, the wood floors make a soft sound, the baristas are happy to see me, and it smells like coffee and cinnamon and scones.
  • I love riding my bike down the street at 7 o'clock on a summer morning.
  • I walk to the bank, the post office, the hardware store, and any other places downtown to do errands. 
  • I see familiar faces everywhere I go. Rose and Denny at Ace, Gus at the PO, Peter at the bank. The other day I walked by "the other coffee shop" and stopped to visit for a minute with three people from my past life.
  • I love the kitchen. They are always cooking up something new and interesting. Yesterday, it was Vegetarian Summer Minestrone. It's served with some chopped arugula in the bottom of the bowl and a little shredded parmesan on top. We meet in the kitchen before the lunch rush to see it, to hear about it, and to sample it. I take pictures and put them on Facebook.
  • I love the big, red hissing espresso machine. The baristas are artists, really, and they love to talk about their work. Have you seen the coffee art they can do in a latte or a cappuccino?
  • This week, I worked with several artists whose work we are bringing in to display or sell. Michele makes beautiful jewelry, Steve from St. Paul makes great cards and magnets with photographs of his wood carvings, and Marie Louise makes vegetable cards with poems on the backs. I also ordered little journals made from coffee leaves. Shopping! My favorite!
  • There is always nice music on in the background. Ashley likes blues so on Thursday, there is always blues, but sometimes jazz or some other interesting thing. Yesterday, three guys in the back room were playing guitars. Not anything organized, they just ended up there and played and talked together.
  • People are always happy. I was working in my office yesterday and about every twenty minutes, I heard Ashley burst into laughter. How nice is that?
  • I love putting on an apron and helping in the front. I get to visit with people and help them through the ordering process. I met a lovely couple from Mitchell, South Dakota who were staying at a B&B in Mankato. I met an older woman who said she liked the squeaky floors because nobody can sneak up on you. A couple of regulars tell me that their job is to keep an eye on the door and keep the riff-raff out.
  • I love telling people about the food...the herbs that came out of the garden that very morning, the eggs that come from East Henderson Farm, the bacon from Prairie Pride, and the new potatoes in the eggbake being delivered by Adam and Lupita yesterday.
  • I love the way they talk about flavors...the hint of fennel, the green flavor in the background of the soup, the lemon thyme in the bundt cake. Sweet and savory. Good food and good flavors are sacraments.
  • I love that Tamika and I do math the same way. She is a genius with analysis and obviously has a very good head for business but the other day, we were trying to figure out how many feet in 100 yards. She gets online to use a converter and I get out the calculator. At the same time, we both went, "Duh!" and got the right answer. We like to draw pictures of math things so we can figure it out visually.
  • This week, I got four little notes of appreciation and thanks from my colleagues at River Rock. Ah, life is good when that happens.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

the coffee shop is a challenge for an old headed person

All I can manage today after my nap and a glass of wine:

I love this job but it is hard work. I went to work today at 7 o'clock this morning and didn't even have time to look at the clock until 1:00. Where the hell did the day go?

I came home and took a nap, the first successful nap in months and months.

Regis and I sat on the patio for a while then came in to listen to the Reverend Raven. It's going to rain.

In case you missed this story:

Regis had these beautiful red roses delivered to me at River Rock yesterday. Mary, of Mary's flowers, walked in the front door with the flowers in one hand and burst into a rendition of "You are so beautiful to me..." and everyone clapped and cheered. It was the sweetest moment. Mary, what a hoot. And my husband is the best thing ever. What a sweet, sweet man.

Last week, I was overwhelmed the first part of the week and then on Thursday, the clouds parted and I thought, "Yes, I can do this job". Maybe the same thing will happen tomorrow.

Monday, July 11, 2011

another lovely weekend and ahhhh, summer

We started the weekend by doing something on Friday. Oh, yes. We went to Patrick's for a glass of wine and a beer, then to the store for party supplies. We toted them up to Vickie's so as not to be bothered with it on Saturday. Vickie's dad and his friend were there so I did a read aloud of my current favorite book about putting your child to sleep. You know the one I mean.

Saturday, we woke at the crack of dawn and headed to Mankato with a grocery list. Since it had been so long since we bought groceries, the list was of considerable size, as was the bill. It's so cold in the grocery store that I wear a sweater and a pair of shoes (as opposed to sandals) so my feet don't cramp up. They had a sale on meat and cheese so we filled a bag with ribs, tuna steaks, and strip steaks. Now we can feed ourselves for a few weeks.

Also stopped at the Crab Deck. Seemed like their stock was a bit low. Maybe the fish aren't biting. Another bunch of money later, we were on the road home.

Too hot and humid to mow the lawn so we're investing in a small herd of sheep to come over once a week to mow it.

We had a little noon-time picnic with some nice cheese from the Coop and some blues on the radio. Sitting under a ceiling fan on a hot summer day in the semi-dark is bliss.

Vickie's little gathering was nice. A small enough number of people so we could all sit in one room and tell tales. Parties get too big and you have to split up. Not so much fun.

Sunday, I worked on paper work and River Rock stuff all day. I am getting so organized that I am starting to think I am someone else. I continue to work on getting rid of crap around here. Next front of attack is the basement.

Now that I am retired, I get paid once a month. I paid all our monthly bills right away and we made a budget (imagine) for the rest of the money. We use a program called EEBA that has a phone app and can be synced to two computers. We're using it to track our expenses. Ha!

We sat on the patio a couple times yesterday and grilled our dinner: stuffed poblano peppers, burgers, and onions, peppers, and mushrooms. Delicious. Mary Rogotzki stopped to drop off some chickens and Joanne stopped for a short visit. Nice to see them both.

I woke up at 10 something and Regis had both curtains open in the bedroom so he could watch the storm approach. Thank God for Ambien. All I need in the middle of the night is to see wind and lightening like that. It throws wide open the old closet of anxieties.

On to the day. I'm going to exercise, then to work about 8:30. I love my new job!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

i smell like burned toast

When I came home from work yesterday, Regis took a big whiff and said I smelled like burned toast. I have heard people say that before about the smell of ground coffee so I assume it's from hanging out by the espresso machine.

That was a riot, by the way. An espresso machine looks like this:

The barista stands behind it and performs a very complex series of actions to make good espresso. So many factors: length of grinding, way it is packed, temperature of water, length of time water pours over grounds. Ashley has been doing this for four years and she talked about all of this with me yesterday. I've never had espresso before and I liked it.

The fact that it's served in these darling little cups doesn't hurt a bit either.

One man came in and ordered four shots in a big cup. Wow. I asked Ashley if that's common and no, it isn't. Not in a small town. She said that's more common in a big city. Must have been not from here, that guy.

So far, I love my job. Not the banking part so much, although it's interesting. I love the part where I get to learn about coffee and food. I love that the chefs are always experimenting with flavors and herbs and spices and that they aren't worried about being too bold. 

I love the part of my job where I get to research other cafes and bistros to see what they're doing about customer service. Check out Dish Gourmet in Boulder.

I especially love the hospitality part of my job. From 11 o'clock to 1 o'clock, I am on call to help in the front. I am the hostess so I greet people when they come in the door, talk with them about the menu, make sure they know where things are, and I check to make sure things are tidy and inviting. It's a hoot.

Yesterday, in a conversation about coffee, I confessed that Regis likes Kwik Trip coffee best of all. He makes no apologies.

I think to fully appreciate life, you have to appreciate the bizarre. This week, I noticed there was a pile of bird poop right over my car door that looks like a tiny owl. I have driven to Mankato twice and still it hangs there. I asked Regis to take a picture of it and maybe he will.

It's only 5 a.m. but we're going to Mankato to buy groceries as soon as it's light outside. We'll make it a fun day.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

alas, no fireworks and happy birthday to my honey

No, we did not stay awake for the fireworks. I was ready to go to sleep shortly after 8:00. I woke up sometime later and thought, wow, I didn't even hear the fireworks. Then they started. Ha! I had a good night's sleep but here I am at 3:46, drinking coffee and writing on my blog. I have lots of River Rock stuff flying through my head so I had to get up and work a little.

Today is the birthday of my sweet husband, Regis. He's my husband, my friend and my companion. We have a wonderful time together every day. Happy birthday, Regis.

Monday, July 04, 2011

happy independence day, you all!

Tiffany and Elliot at the parade.

Ella and Alex at the parade.

Lomilomi Salmon for the River Rock party on the 3rd. Delicious!

Bike ride through Kasota at the River Rock party. What a hoot!

We stopped at the Kasota Zoo. Bethany was worried that there would be polar bears and whales. Nope...just goats.

Thanks, Mary's Flowers, for the beautiful rose. Some guy in front of me had a toxic cloud of BO that spewed out every time he jumped up to get candy, which was often. I buried my nose in this rose and survived.

My favorite thing in the parade.

My least favorite thing in the parade. Not the Shriners but the dude with the white belly and the man-boobs across the street. He is in every picture we took. No comment.


Loved all the beauty queen floats. An anachronism, I know, but fun. I always practice my beauty queen wave at the parade.

It was a wonderful weekend. We sat on the patio, amid a cloud of Off and citronella, to have a plate of jalapeno stuffed olives, chipotle Gouda cheese, Prairie Breeze, dark chocolate, assorted greens from Living Land Farm. 

I doubt we will be awake for the fireworks. Once you've seen dee da. And we have no insane dogs to march across our pillows because they're afraid of the noise.

Back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

cleaning sorting and throwing jag

I didn't really plan to do this today but the donation truck is coming to my neighborhood next week and I wanted to get some crap ready to go. For some reason, late this morning, I was struck by lightening or something and I went crazy.

I have about 6 boxes to donate and two big bags of stuff for the consignment store. I was also ruthless about throwing things away.

I found a little basket full of ticket stubs from the 1970s, I kid you not. Now, why in hell would I be keeping those?

I found multiple bags of extra Christmas tree light bulbs. Yeah, like that works to try and replace those babies.

Paper clips, pennies, pads of sticky notes, lotion bottles with an inch in the bottom, sample packets of shampoo, unlabeled CDs, It was crazy.

Does anybody ever use the extra buttons they give you with new clothes?

I told Regis I feel like I got half a handle on my life today.

We spent a couple hours this morning setting up a new finance/budget system. My TRA comes once a month so we wanted a better way to pay bills and track our spending. We found an app that we can use online and it will sync to both phones. Wow. We could even get fiscally responsible here.

I would still like to go through my plastic and baking cupboard but I think I'm starting to drive Regis nuts. I'll quit for today.

Jane and I laughed once over an article in the paper about a woman who had a garbage house. When they came to clean it up, she said, 'This isn't all my junk."

I have one more little task I'd like to complete today but not sure I will get to it. I feel a nap coming on...

Stay cool today, friends. Maybe see you at the 4th of July street dance tonight.

Friday, July 01, 2011

starting my new job today!

I start my new job, for real, today. Not the training part, the real working part where I figure out the math and money myself. Uh oh. Ha!

I'm very excited. I have a new bag with a coffee theme, I am planning what to wear and what to take for lunch. It's like going to my first day of school!

Regis and I went out for a celebratory glass of wine at Patrick's, then came home to cook steaks on the grill. The weather was a bit oppressive but it's summer and we don't want to sit in the house all the time. The steaks were delicious.

So, here we go.