Tuesday, January 31, 2012

april in january

It was 40 degrees this morning at 6 a.m. and that's above zero, my friends. What a weird winter. I'm not sure how warm it got but it felt like spring. Nice...but weird.

Regis and I watched Cowboys and Aliens last night. I really loved the cowboy parts and Regis really loved the alien parts which means it was the perfect movie for us. Read Roger Ebert's review. He says it's the most cockamamie plot he's seen in a movie in a long time. Daniel Craig makes a great cowboy, though. I had to cover my eyes a few times during violent scenes but it was way more tolerable than some movies I've seen lately.

Our neighbor, Mike, is an illusionist, magician, and comedian. He's been working on an illusion for three years that he calls Paintball Roulette. Here's his poster. I have a ticket and I'm going. It should be a hoot.

I'm not sure about this blog design. I didn't get much feedback...a couple of positive notes...but I kind of like seeing it all laid out there. Not sure I like having to click on things. I'm learning so much about all of these social media things and I tell you, it makes my head hurt.

I had to go back to the old blog design. All my widgets were gone! Oh, no!

I am a bit vulnerable to sales people especially those with a good line of BS. A very gregarious fellow just came to the door saying he would get a bonus for making a sale to someone with a Christmas tree still up. I said dude, that is a Valentine's Day tree. Anyway, he took a picture of it and I bought was he was selling but I'm not going to say what it was and no, not a Kirby vacuum cleaner. I did that one when I was 21. You'd think I would learn. Anybody want to come for a steak dinner?

I  think I have spoken of this before but when I sing on my iPod, I sound just like Alison Krauss. Regis does not exactly concur and usually comes to make sure I'm not wounded when I fire up in song. Last night I was doing my rendition of the Dolly Parton tune Joleen but I called my version Pauline. Unfortunately this song got stuck in my poor husband's head all day and now he has to sing it to someone else to get rid of it. Let's hope it's not you.

I'm taking a community ed class called Writing in Vignette which is a genre I love so I have been busy writing little vinaigrettes. The reason they are so much fun to write is that they're only 200-500 words (some discussion in class related to how many words how many pages...does this sound familiar, Jill?), I don't have to use quotation marks which I loathe, and I can use de-personalized pronouns which could be something I made up. Anyway, it's fun.

I found out why our son, Peter the Illusive has been so...absent lately. I won't say anymore because he hates to divulge personal information (like what he had for lunch) and I don't want to violate his sense of propriety. Don't call and ask me either. I can only say it does not involve us seeing his engagement announcement in the Free Press. 

Going to finish up our Sirloin Tip Roast (Emerill's recipe) for dinner and then watching a movie. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012


Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,

between “green thread”
and “broccoli” you find
that you have penciled “sunlight.”

Resting on the page, the word
is as beautiful, it touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present
he had sent you from some place distant
as this morning — to cheer you up,

and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing,

that also needs accomplishing.
~ from “The Word,” by Tony Hoagland

oh, my aching head

I have had a weekend of technology. First, I spent most of yesterday figuring out all that promotion business with qr codes and smart phones, then I have spent today figuring out the new google pathways to my blog. It ain't easy being me.

Regis and I went to a party last night where we played games and gambled. I am notoriously bad at card games but these were easy and a lot of fun. None of them involved holding a card to your forehead which was the game I played last time I was at a party where we played cards. That was probably 1982. I managed to hold my own in the games with only occasional reminders to pay attention or pay my quarter. It was a laugh riot and I came home with five dollars more than I had when I left. So there you go.

I am constantly amazed by the stupid things that get a lot of attention. I wrote a goofy post on FB about qr codes and teaching an old dog new tricks. So far, about ten people have "liked" it. I can write a lovely and lyrical thing about being in the coffee shop in the morning and I don't get squat for feedback. Ha!

This is going to be a short blast because I have to figure out how to put all of my music into the Amazon cloud. Wish me luck.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

trying out a new format and looking for feedback

I decided to give my blog a new look. This is called the dynamic view and since I am most certainly dynamic, we'll give it a shot. Let me know if you love it or hate it. You can change the dynamic view you see by clicking on snapshot, sidebar, magazine, etc. Just trying to get in the modern world.

little vinaigrettes

This has been a busy week. Lots of activity at work and at home.

Thursday night, I went to my first Writing in Vignette class at the Art Center. It was very interesting and I woke up the next morning at 4, thinking about my homework. I thought that was a good sign so I went into the office and cranked out a few vignettes.

I worked with a woman years ago who told me she was reading a book that was a series of little vinaigrettes. It tickled me so that I can hardly say the word correctly now. I had to tell the instructor the story in case I slipped and used the word vinaigrette in class.

I've been busy writing for the coffee shop blog, too. My job has been in a state of flux for months and it seems like we're finally settling on what my job should and should not be. That would be a relief. I think we're settling on these things: promotion, public relations, and networking. Yes, I can do that.

Peter stopped over the other night, unexpectedly. We didn't have dinner ready which is kind of unusual but I did have some ribs in the freezer that he agreed to consume. Imagine that. He also wanted his car insurance information that had come in the mail here. I rifled through pile after pile of possible piles, looked in every possible drawer and couldn't find it. I did find an article called "How to Control Your Clutter". Hahaha! I thought that was a hoot. I eventually did find the thing he wanted.

The other morning, I was checking my email and looked at one from Amazon. Before I knew it, I had spent thirty minutes looking at One-Hit Wonders for my music cloud. Music cloud. I can hardly get my head around that. I think it means that I store my music somewhere else. Not a real cloud but a big computer somewhere. Amazon is not so fussy about where the music came from so I'm going to use them. I only bought one of the one-hit wonders.

I went to a marketing seminar the other day at a radio station in Mankato. I thought they might have some good coffee and treats (not) and that I might learn something. It was really interesting and I did learn a lot. Some things I had an awareness of already, like the yellow pages are pretty much a thing of the past, people don't advertise on tv much anymore (because of TIVO and dvr), and that social media can be powerful.

The sales rep I was sitting beside told me to check out two things: red line and lazer something or other. One of them will automatically send a text message to people driving by your restaurant. What the hell. How do it know?

Redlaser and Foursquare. I can barely get my head around this.

If you have a scanner thing on your phone, you can focus it on this code and it will take you right to River Rock's blog. What the hell. How do it know?

I have two books to read on social marketing. I better get started.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

later on sunday...pictures and such

I was browsing around Kohl's yesterday and found this red sparkly dress on a clearance rack and knew that Ella would love it. It has glitter all over it and it swirls like a ballroom dance gown. She can also tuck her markers in the neckline which she thinks is a great bonus.


Regis and I put Gus in the back seat and motored to Mankato yesterday. We had our usual errands to do and then we stopped at Pet Expo. I wonder why people think your dogs want to visit. Or they stop to compare dog genetics. Our dog is part poodle, too, one guy tells me. I think he should spend his disposable income on dental work and a laundromat instead of dog food.

They also want the dogs to meet each other. I don't really think Gus cares about meeting other dogs in the pet store. What are they going to do...set up a coffee date? My dog does not need to meet every scruffy Shitzu that comes through the door. The whole thing makes me nervous.

I find myself struggling a bit to write here. I think I should avoid politics because you can't write about that without extreme sarcasm, I avoid religion because I don't want to offend people, I should avoid sports. What's left? Do I issue disclaimers at the beginning of each post?

Irony and sarcasm...it's what I do best.

I could be cranky today. It looks like Siberia outside today and it's wearing me out. I'm reading Ian Frazier's book about Siberia which I love but it could be a poor choice for reading material during the drudge of a Minnesota winter. I ordered Mile Marker Zero: The Moveable Fest of Key West. Here's a review from Amazon:

For Hemingway and Fitzgerald, there was Paris in the twenties. For others, later, there was Greenwich Village, Big Sur, and Woodstock. But for an even later generation—one defined by the likes of Jimmy Buffett, Tom McGuane, and Hunter S. Thompson—there was another moveable feast: KeyWest, Florida.
The small town on the two-by-four-mile island has long been an artistic haven, a wild refuge for people of all persuasions, and the inspirational home for a league of great American writers. Some of the artists went there to be literary he-men. Some went to re-create themselves. Others just went to disappear—and succeeded. No matter what inspired the trip, Key West in the seventies was the right place at the right time, where and when an astonishing collection of artists wove a web of creative inspiration.
Mile Marker Zero tells the story of how these writers and artists found their identities in Key West and maintained their friendships over the decades, despite oceans of booze and boatloads of pot, through serial marriages and sexual escapades, in that dangerous paradise.
Unlike the “Lost Generation” of Paris in the twenties, we have a generation that invented, reinvented, and found itself at the unending cocktail party at the end—and the beginning—of America’s highway.

Speaking of copying an Amazon review into my blog. Regis and I have been bantering lately about the SOPA legislation. Here's an example of how it might work. Because I have copywrited material here, I am in violation and they could shut me down. Of course, I'm not sure how they'd know or who "they" are but that's the issue.

Another interesting thing. I have a lot of music on my computer. Most of it purchased through iTunes because I thought that was the honest thing to do. I decided to transfer it all to the Google cloud so when my computer goes belly up, as they all eventually do...my music would still be there only in the cloud.

So, as I start to upload it, none of the songs that I purchased would go because they are in an mp4 format which means that iTunes has them encoded with DRM. Digital Registry Management code. iTunes thinks I only rented those songs from them and therefore what I can do with them is limited.

I could copy them onto a CD then load them again and it would work...but doesn't that seem like a lot of work?

Songs I have gotten through less legal means, say someone lets me copy a CD they own onto my computer, belong to me but not something I purchased. Weird.

If these cloud people are going to examine each and every syllable of music that I store in their vaults, they should start examining every syllable of written prose people try to store. How can they ever police this?

And yes, I know this is a rant that most people don't care a fig about.

Yesterday, I wore a bright red sweater and my red Norwegian wrap. I wore my white lambswool scarf. The old dudes in the coffee shop hooted and said I looked like Mrs. Santa. Sure enough, I went into Kohl's and heard several small children asking their moms if I was Mrs. Santa. Even the lady behind the customer service desk said she did a double take. Did she really think I was Mrs. Santa? What a hoot.

Ella is coming over today to decorate the Valentine tree. I bought three strings of red and pink lights, a bunch of shiny hearts, and some other gaudy stuff. She will love it. I found a red sparkly dress on the Christmas clearance rack that will be perfect for Valentine's Day. If it were my size, I'd be wearing it!

All for now. There could be Valentine tree photos later.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

tim who?

At the coffee shop, there was a picture on the kitchen door of some sports figure. I walked by it many times before I bothered to see who it was. Tim Tebow. Who? If he hadn't had a helmet on, I wouldn't have known which sport he played. I mentioned him to my boss today and she said, "Who?"

There are about 30 years between us, me and my current boss. We are alike in some strange ways and our complete and utter disinterest in sports is only one. We laughed and furrowed our brows as we puzzled over the Super Bowl. Which sport is that for again? And isn't it presumptuous to think that everyone wants the sports section in the Sunday paper?

Mom just gave me the low-down on the GOP debate. The moderator asked Mr. Gingrich about an allegation that he asked his ex-wife for a three-way. I am almost falling out of my chair and that's no BS. This is a subject for a presidential debate? I wonder how many people listening to that debate know what a three-way is. OMG WTF ROTFLMAO. It's like a Woody Allen movie.

Regis took Gus to dog obedience school tonight, the special ed version as he gets a little ADHD when he's excited. Apparently there was a registration SNAFU and there were too many dogs at the 6:30 class and not enough dogs at the 7:45 class so they asked Gus to come to the later class so he could get more individual attention. That's the key phrase there, folks. Well, I thought 6:30 was late but I did consider accompanying Regis and Gus from time to time. Not to any 7:45 class, however. I will be in bed shortly.

It's zero degrees here tonight. Probably more like below zero by now.

I'm reading Ian Frazier's book Travels in Siberia which is fascinating but very long. I've been reading it for a long time and I'm only 43% done which is how Kindle Fire tells you where you are in the book. Isn't that sort of relative? I have no idea how many real pages there are...only digital pages. These are some of the things I love about this story:

  • In Siberia, the mosquitoes are so bad that they wear protective gear to keep them out of their eyes and ears and throats. There is a hilarious passage about this that I tried to highlight and send to myself but my technology skills failed me.
  • The two guides are never on time, bought a van that on most days, does not work, and seem unconcerned about their lack of maps, clocks, a gas gauge, and  indoor plumbing. In fact, in most places there isn't even outdoor plumbing unless you count shrubs as outdoor plumbing. This would not be a trip for me. Even Ian Frazier says usually reading about travel is more fun than actually traveling. I knew it!
  • There is trash everywhere. Not just McDonald's trash and disposable diapers but industrial trash. Neon green industrial trash. Metal filings and steel barrels.
  • Suddenly, some of things I learned in history classes along the line, seem real. Exile? Really?
I've read a couple of his other books but when I'm done with this one, I'll check out his whole list. He is a wonderful writer. Akin to John McPhee in the non-fiction department.

Here is my advice: Stay inside tonight. If you go outside, wear mittens. Avoid the television. If you watch television, stick to MTV or Turner Classic Movies.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

never let the truth get in the way of a good story

I can't remember if Mike told me this subject line was a quote or something he made up. Either way is possible. Mike is my neighbor and we like to talk about the creative process, him being a comedian and magician and me being, well...a bullshitter.

There is nothing people like better than a good story and if you aren't out and out telling lies, like you're a millionaire and you aren't, they don't care. They like a good story.

I never tell stories about meeting Elizabeth Taylor or dating Leonardo Di Caprio but I have been known to embellish.

I came home to ask Regis who Tim Tebow is. I saw his picture at River Rock but I had no idea he was a football player. Ha.

The other thing I did not know about is SOPA. Well, there you go. I should watch the news, right?

Gus got slicked up today at Kind's. He loves going there because he loves everybody. He's getting curlier and curlier...hair and tail. Regis and I had a funny conversation about hair versus fur. It is not simple to ascertain the difference.

mid-january and what to write about when the weather is so boring

I bet they've had to lay off some weather forecasters this year. It's been pretty boring. Mild temperatures, no snow, partly cloudy. They could have phoned it in the first of November and gone off to some more interesting weather locale.

I read an article in a magazine at the Pulse a couple weeks ago. Usually the kind of self-help article I avoid because I've gotten pretty comfortable with my neuroses thanks very much. This one affirmed a trend I have been practicing the last few years. The title is "In Praise of Rose-Colored Glasses". The gist is that the world is a hard, scary place and getting worse. Things are going to hell in a handbasket.

A poet, Jack Gilbert says, "We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of the world."

Yes. This is how I like to live. If there is some bad thing occurring to someone I know, that's different. I can help that situation. If there is a world problem I can do something about, that's different. I can help, But to pay attention to all the bad things that are way beyond my control and which will never impact me, is silly.Unless the bad guys are coming down my street, I don't want to know.

I don't think the world has gotten better or safer since we got 24 hour news. I think it adds to a sense of doom. The world would be happier all around if CNN and FOX went off the air.

So, bad things happen. For the most part, I ignore them and there is still music and dancing and good books.

I'd put the link here if I could find it...Martha Beck is the author...but it's Oprah, after all, and she probably has it locked up. It was in the September 2011 issue and if you want a copy, let me know. I'll mail it to you.

That's enough pontificating, eh?

Here's another article I enjoyed. Calvin Trillin writes about a new way to measure pretentiousness: the ACI or Asshole Correlation Index. Very funny, very true. We can't wait to try it out in a public place.

Here I am writing about rose-colored glasses and my sweet husband comes out of the bedroom to tell me about one of his post-apocalyptic alien survivalist dreams. I couldn't make that shit up when I was awake much less dream it.

I have dreams that I write books like The Party What Started Out as Jumpin' Around. I think I'll stick with that.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

the week starts out with winter's return

I barely left the house yesterday (Sunday) but I know it was warm outside because I saw people walking with their jackets open and no hats or gloves. I should have taken advantage of that but I didn't.

The wind today was cold and wicked ass bad. Sorry for the cussing.

My friend, Jill, spotted this book title on Amazon this morning: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. She said it sounded like a title that came from one of my dreams and it surely does.

I made cabbage rolls for dinner. I have never eaten cabbage rolls, or even seen them, in my memory anyway, and to make them more palatable I gave them a pizza flavor. I used pizza sauce and added fennel and Italian herbs. Regis calls the hallupke or something and said his mama is rolling in her grave because Polish cabbage rolls do not taste like pizza. I said next time I would skip a step and just chop the cabbage and make it into a hotdish. Hahahahaha. This is how ethnic food transforms.

It's young Regis's birthday today. He is over thirty but I'm not going to figure out by how much because it will make me feel old. I should have invited him down for pizza hallupke but at some point, your kids don't want to celebrate their birthdays with their parents...until they get to be about 50, right Mom?

I have to go and listen to folkmusic etc on KMSU.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

road trip

Road trip today with Gus in the back seat. Many stops (Coop, Friendly Confines, River Rock, Kohls, Aldi's, MGM, Walgreens, Famous Dave's) while Regis either waited with him or we took a seat by a window. He enjoys traveling but doesn't like to be alone. It was a fun day. Now...Delbert McClinton, sauvignon blanc, rib tips, and the fireplace.

Maybe we discovered a way to do some things without hiring a babysitter. We scoped out a few places with windows where we can keep an eye on Gus in the car. We thought we'd tell people that our kids were in the car so they would give us the seats we want. I know...not funny.

Tonight we're going to recreate the great Sideways caper. 

I have several funny stories about Sideways. The first we saw it, we invited some friends over to see it, then checked out the reviews where it was called a "horndog road trip". Sound of screaming. These were not the kind of friends who would enjoy that kind of humor, I assumed. I was wrong. They laughed and slapped their knees and we had a wonderful time.

The second time.

Betty: I bought a fifty dollar bottle of wine to see if it's better than cheap wine.

Me: Betty: You don't like wine. (Thinking that I would like to know...)

Betty: Oh, that's right.

Me: Why don't you come down with your wine. I'll buy a bottle of expensive wine and we'll watch Sideways.

So, there we were. Regis and Betty are not fond of wine. Tom and I finished off two bottles of really nice wine and then a bottle of cheap wine. We decided the expensive wine was better but that we would have to get different jobs to support our wine habit.

one more cup of coffee then out the door

I was sitting in my chair last night about dusk, well, make that 4:30 about dusk and I realized that I had no plans to be out of the house until Monday. Sometimes this is fine but last night with the landscape that resembled Siberia and the falling darkness, it was not fine. I had a mental moment.

Consequently we have plans to head out to do some things today. A stop at the food coop, a stop at Friendly Confines in LeSueur, a stop at Kohls in Mankato and maybe Aldi's for some coffee. Gus will ride along in the back seat.

This morning, I have been sitting in front of the fireplace making my menu and grocery list for the coming weeks. I must be tired of my own cooking, too, because I bookmarked some new recipe websites.

Karen, thanks for the recommendation on the book. I bought it for my Kindle in the middle of the night when  I was awake and started reading it this morning. I think I'll like it.

It's cold here again this morning...about ten degrees...with a light snow. The flakes are so small you can barely see them. The ground is not quite covered but it is accumulating. That's all the news from my weather channel.

A friend of mine, a frequent poster on Facebook, shares stories of meals cooked, meals enjoyed at restaurants, books read, trips taken, friends and relatives gathered. Reflecting back, she wondered if she was being too focused on herself and she resolved in 2012 to be less that way. Here is her post:
Around the beginning of the new year, I was reading an article in the New York Times about the self absorption of the younger generation, probably fueled by Facebook, where they write and receive feedback on the trivia of their life. I thought, right, where did they get the idea that that stuff is worth writing about or of interest to anyone. Everything is so overdone I get the idea they might hire a professional photographer to record at their death bed, at least I won't be around to watch that. Then it struck me - that's exactly what you do, Sharon. I write, because I love to write, but it may give people the idea that I think the minutia of where I'm going, what I'm doing, what I'm eating are of major import and interest. It's the kind of thing only my mother would probably want to hear. And maybe not even mom would really care. I remember when Tim's mom would ask what he had been up to, he would say "nothing much." Then I'd try to fill her in, but she would cut me off and wander on to her latest news. As a psychologist he knew that she might consider it bragging and people are really just being polite and waiting for their chance to speak. My New Year's resolution - not to focus on me. This won't be easy, I'm kind of a major player in my life & I enjoy my life & it's the only one I've got. (Now that my children are adults they are entitled to their own lives, so I don't plan on living my life through them.) I won't be telling you about last night's supper, a tomato, garlic tart on puff pastry that I made, and of which Tim ate every last crumb. Or maybe I'll just include a disclaimer, "The following is only the ramblings of the writer and is not necessarily of interest or import to anyone else."
I replied with this:
Like you, I write somewhere about most of the details of my life. I had never given a thought that it might seem vain or self-centered. I love reading about the minutiae of your life and I love writing about mine...so let's not stop. Toss that resolution to the curb. Live a rich full life and tell stories about it!
And she replied:
I'm forgetting my self-effacing, Scandinavian Lutheran guilt and taking Teresa's advice and try to live a rich full life and write about it. Taking pleasure in the little stuff is what I'm all about.
So, there you go. We do reflect and think about all we share and we come to the conclusion that if you don't want to know, don't read it. Haha!

I posted a message to Tom and Betty here the other day. I hope I'm not taking liberties by publishing this update from them as a guest post.

We miss y'all [how's that for Texas]. Since Betty and I have been down on the island we've been doing a lot of walking. We'll walk a couple of miles then stop for a beer at one of the beach bars they have here. We do this a couple times a day. The first four days I was really stiff and sore but have gotten quite good at walking again [the drinking part of the exercise was never in doubt]. I really haven't done this since my letter carrying days. The weather has been great except for a few windy days. We go out to eat every couple days - lots of seafood and mexican. Half a block away is Jake's bar and grill with some pretty good specials. Tomorrow is carnita night so will try it out. We like it here so much that we're thinking of doing three months here next year and bring the dogs. The place we have now is for a month, but we've decided to extend our stay another two weeks at another place that is dog friendly and if we like it we will have first choice for next year. It's half of a duplex and we can let the dogs out in the back yard. It's also cheaper than the place we have now. New years day was the polar bear plunge down here. Tell Hombre I got pictures. It was moving day from the motel right there at Boomerang Billy's across the street to our condo so I couldn't register to do the plunge myself. Anyway, the water temp is 65 degrees [brrrr!]. So long for now.

Off to do the errands and have a little fun.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

after two days of wind that would take your head off if you were crazy enough to go outside

It's a well-known fact that I hate wind. I have always retreated to the basement when the wind blows for extended periods of time. I believe it goes back to my Norwegian immigrant roots. If I had lived in a poorly chinked log cabin in the winter in Minnesota, it would have taken a lot of grapes to make enough wine. That's all I can say about that.

So, Regis just called and said Gus has been invited to disenroll from the class he is currently in and to enroll in a different class where he can.....get more individual attention. I SPENT MY WHOLE CAREER IN SPECIAL ED AND I KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS. Ah, well. In life, you never know what you get.

I continue to be made aware of the bizarre ways in which people believe God communicates with them electronically. I cannot get my head around this. I was raised a Lutheran. I studied the catechism. This much we know is true. No mention was made of God and Facebook.

I have reawakened my reading chi and spent about an hour this afternoon with my kindle, weeding out books I thought I wanted to read but turns out I don't. I have such a narrow band of things I like to read....no crime, no violence, not much suspense, no aliens, no flashbacks, no graphic sex. I pretty much like a linear character driven plot. Ah, well.


Regis found a photo booth app for his iPad. We can take pictures like the old photo booths at the fair and the mall. Ha! We want to have a photo booth party where people bring props and we provide costumes and we take pictures. Does that sound like fun?

My hair looks like crap because once you slap a wig on your head, your hair does not recover well. Ah, well. One of life's problems but not a big deal.

I like to wear sunglasses in flash pictures because I always close my eyes.

I think I like the black and white version better...it looks more authentic.

I continue to be amazed by the number (infinity) of apps that seem to be available and I am ever curious about who makes them. Who sits around waiting for an idea to come and then invents an app? Is invent the right word? Probably not...probably develop.

I was sitting at work the other day and heard two people having a conversation about web development. It was like a foreign language.
I feel like in the last month, I entered a new phase at work. It doesn't feel like I have to struggle so much with the basic parts of the job. They're becoming sort of automatic now so my chi can be aware of and concentrate on other things.

And because the basic parts require less brain function, I can have fun with the other parts. I caught one the other day...a friend was speaking about someone she knew who has a huge organic garden. The lightbulb went on way earlier than it would have two months ago. It would have taken a few days to crank that thought out then. I am connecting the dots faster.

Regis and I watched the movie Sweetland again last night. It's based on the short story by Will Weaver called A Gravestone Made of Wheat. I read it for the first time in the Sunday Tribune Picture magazine about 25 years ago. The next day, I took it to school and read it aloud to twenty high school boys. I cried when I read it at home so I thought the tears were done but I cried like a baby when I got to the end and they were mesmerized. It was one of the great truths of my teaching career: Kids learn as much from your reaction to things as they do from the thing itself, maybe more. They talked for a long time about how moved I had been by that story.

The movie is wonderful, for the story, for the setting, and for the harshness of the times. They changed the plot which is an irritant to me...the plot was the magical thing about the story but I guess they had to add that modern element of real estate sale in the end. Ah, well. No less magical. I love the movie.

Here is a link to a Word document with the story. And the movie.

It's a sweet read and a great movie.

I hate the wind. I really hate it. It's been howling all night and I can't stand it. I think I'll work in the basement today.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

another dream book

From time to time, I dream a book title like: The Party What Started Out as Jumpin' Around. They are never fully developed concepts and so far, no books have been written based on a dreamed title. Last night I had another book title dream and I had to get up in the middle of the night to email it to myself.

It's a memoir. I just finished Roger Ebert's memoir so I suppose memoir is on my mind. I am also well-known for my love of cooking and my affection for flamboyant costume jewelry. The title of my book was this, written exactly like this:


Nibbling. Get it? Hahahaha!

A message to Betty and Tom. We miss you. Your house seems empty when we drive by even though we know your pets are there and someone is taking care of them. Your bar stool at Patrick's has cob webs on it, Tom. Your end of town is just a little bit darker than it used to be. Come home soon.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

stuff i've noticed...my sarcastic side

I've been a little disturbed lately about the parking wars going on around town. This is not a new thing, nor is it unique to St. Peter.

The gym where we go is next door to a building that was recently purchased by a pizza  restaurant. There is a parking lot between the two buildings. One of the owners of the pizza place came over a while back and asked the owner of the gym to let patrons know that they were not allowed to park in the parking lot anymore as it is part of their lease, they keep it clean, their customers need it, etc.

The owner of the gym sends an email and posts signs reminding us not to park in the parking lot. Yeah, we get it.

Then comes an officious, rude, and threatening letter (written on pink and blue paper) saying that people who do park there will be fined and have their cars towed at their own expense yada yada yada.

So, the owner of the gym posts her own signs that there is no parking in front of her business from 5:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. At least she didn't mention towing.

Can't we all just get along?

I'm thinking that I go there for exercise. If I have to park a half block away so some dude can get right in front of the pizza joint, I can deal with that. His heart attack, I figure.

I see this all over in Mankato. No parking. Parking for customers of this store only.

We have certainly become uncivilized.

I noticed something weird in the paper Sunday. I like to read the obits and noticed a section called In Memory (or the Latin equivalent). There were prayers there, written to God, about people who have died. God reads the classifieds?

This is like some of the posts I see on Facebook: Dad, it's been two years since you passed. We miss you! Dead people have Facebook accounts?

Yesterday as I got ready to go to work, I heard a huge noise in the street. It was a giant gas-powered digger picking up Mike's tiny Christmas tree. It had the tiny tree pinched between the giant claws and it motored down the street to drop the tree into a giant dump truck.

I have been walking around town so I know. There are about a dozen of those discarded trees on the north side of St. Peter. I'm thinking a dude in a pick-up and a dude jumping out every six blocks or so could pick them all up in an afternoon. What about our carbon footprint? Besides...it looked ridiculous.

Regis and I have been watching Woody Allen movies because for some reason, I missed them in the 70's and 80's when they were fresh. Last night we finished Small Time Crooks. I love the part where Frenchie's taste is criticized as "low rent" by her hoity toity friends...they say it looked like a leopard exploded in her living room. There I sit...on a leopard chair, in a leopard scarf, wearing a leopard bracelet and a leopard belt. The irony did not escape me.

Sunday, January 08, 2012


Regis and I get our beef from Mike out by LeCenter so we sometimes get cuts of meat we aren't sure how to cook. I looked at some recipes yesterday but most had gravy and I didn't want gravy so I invented this recipe. It was delicious and we will make it again!

Round Steak Zapata

2 pound (?) round steak, seasoned liberally with something spicy. We used Penzey's Southwest
Brown steak in vegetable oil on both sides.
Slice up two red peppers and two white onions. Toss them in the frying pan aside the meat. Stir them a bit so they get some of the spice and the oil, add about a 1/4 cup of salsa, then cover.
I cooked the meat for an hour, turning once, and stirring the vegetables from time to time.
At the end, I took the meat out and sliced it into about half an inch thick. Return meat to pan.
I shredded a circle of Cacique Manchego (Mexican melting cheese) and covered the meat and vegetables with the cheese. Recover until the cheese melts...just a few minutes.
Dump the whole business on a platter. Serve with your favorite hot sauce or salsa and sour cream.

We had a family of five cardinals in our feeders this morning. They sort of jockeyed for positions with the white-eared squirrels.

I took all the ornaments off the tree today and packed them up. Ella wants to come over and decorate the tree for Valentine's Day. If you see Valentine's Day tree decorations somewhere, let me know.

As a reward, I'm going for a walk. I like to take my iPod on Sunday and listen to either the Moth or the radio. I like Car Talk & Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, or Prairie Home Companion.

Pictures from last night.

Gus was playing with a leather football on a rope, swinging it around in the air, whacking himself in the head, and occasionally losing control of it. I predicted disaster and sure enough, the football got away, hit my wine glass, dumped it on the floor and ice went skittering in every direction. The glass didn't break and the wine was gone...only things that kept it from being labeled a catastrophe.

Doesn't he have the cutest face?

Thanks to my friend, Jill, I have a subscription to Bookmarks magazine and now have a notebook with a list of books I want to read. I add to it with every issue of Bookmarks and every Sunday when I read the Variety section of the paper.

Well, off for my walk. I might take my little camera and take a few photos to document the day.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

weekend in winter

It doesn't seem like a weekend in winter. It's brown, it's warm, and there are no predictions of the blizzard of the century bearing down on us. It's very boring.

I have been spending more time at my desk this week...sorting junk mail, writing down addresses, getting organized. I dug out an old address book because I can't seem to manage keeping track of them electronically. Now, I'm on the hunt for my really old address book that I've had since the 70's. Once in a while, I like to count how many times different people have moved. Ha! I know...strange. It's interesting to go through an old book like that and see how many people have just dropped out of your life.

Ah, well. I'm tired of digging around in the archaeological dig of my life. I think I'll move into the future and write the first paragraph of next year's Christmas letter.

The things I did today going backwards:

  • Put a well-seasoned round steak on the stove with lots of peppers and onions and a little hot salsa.
  • Ordered invitations for our 60th birthday party in June.
  • Took Gus for a three-mile hike.
  • Cleaned up around my desk.
  • Took a tub of pictures and memorabilia to the basement.
  • Took a bag of paper trash to the recycler.
  • Wrote the first paragraph or two of next year's Christmas letter.
  • Did the dishes and picked up the house.
  • Designed a badge for some friends at the coffee shop.
All in all, a productive and fun day.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

don't sleep and eat

When I was at the Pulse this morning, I remembered a dream.

I was running and running and running and I thought, "Wow. I can't believe how easy this is!"

Well, yeah. In a dream.

I woke up at one point in the night and was hungry so I ventured out to the kitchen for a Clementine orange and a handful of dry roasted peanuts. I started reading...and then fell asleep. A while later, I woke up surrounded by orange pieces and peanuts. Don't sleep and eat. It's like drinking and driving. Mutually exclusive activities.

early morning

Sitting in the living room with the Christmas tree lights on and drinking coffee...looking out into the dark morning...reading a little...writing a little. Yesterday, I packed up the second third of the Christmas decorations. Why do they look so pitiful when they're piled up on a chair, waiting to go back into boxes?

I'll keep the tree up for a long time but will change out the Christmas ornaments for Valentine's Day, then St. Patrick's Day. I need the light.

Ella wants to come and help with the Valentine's Day tree. She was disappointed that I had done the Christmas tree without her. Who knew that she would remember that and look forward to it. We'll make an occasion of the next tree trimming.

Last year was a Christmas card winter. We had beautiful fluffy snow all winter and it never got brown and slushy until it was ready to melt in the spring. I know it made travel, by foot and by car, difficult but it was so much more aesthetically pleasing. This winter, you just put your head down into the wind and shuffle like a penguin on the ice covered walks. This is a Siberia winter...without the cool fur hats.

I didn't read much at all in the last three years. My theory was that since I hadn't ever exercised, all of my energy (my chi?) was going to my muscles instead of to my head. I went along with this theory thinking it was wacky and something I made up but now that I read about chi, I might be right. It's my life force, diverted to my quads and triceps.

Now, I'm back to reading. I haven't given up exercise, in fact, increased time and intensity in the last month. Maybe my chi has learned to do both. I think I'll read up on inner alchemy.

Monday, January 02, 2012

it doesn't get much better than this...

A birthday party when you're six years old...

An uncle who will wear a tiara because you ask him to is a pretty special uncle.

Ella and her Nana

Blowing out the candles

Alex wanted it to be his birthday, too.

Ella and Halley

We traveled to the other side of town in the icy wind to celebrate Ella's birthday. There was lots of excitement in the air.

Saturday when Ella was at our house, we sorted through my jewelry box and junk drawer. She went home with an old purse full of discarded plastic cards, bits of bracelets, charms, a single earring, and some stories we wrote on little pieces of paper. Her mom told me she was more excited about the purse full of junk than she was about the presents. Ha!

I thought the weather man said the wind would go down by midnight. If it did, it returned with a vengeance. Ugh. I don't even want to go outside. Wind is my least favorite weather event.

I have a full day. The Pulse from 7-8:30. Coffee with Joanne at 8:45. Work as soon as I can get there.

Keep your hood up and your head down today, friends.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

the new year dawns windy

Regis got some kind of electronic message this morning regarding a high wind alert. You know how those things come out of nowhere...the messages, I mean. I have no idea, most days, how information gets into my head because there are too many sources. Way too many sources. And really? Someone had to send a message that it's windy? I knew that in the middle of the night when I was half asleep with my eyes closed.

I bought myself a present for the new year, a Kindle Fire. I was resistant at first, then came to the conclusion that at the rate I am reading right now, I will fill the house with books again shortly and we don't have room. So, if I wanted to attempt a conversion to electronic reading, I had to get something friendlier than the Kindle I was using, an older model black and white job. I was not a fan of that Kindle. I didn't like that I never got to see the cover of the book. I couldn't remember titles of authors because I didn't have any visual framework. I missed seeing the back cover and the short reviews.

I spotted this on Amazon the other day and bought it kind of impulsively. I love it, though. It's got vibrant colors, it's easy to use, and the writing looks like a real book. It's backlit so I can read in bed without a light on and I like that. It does email and the web and all of that which wasn't a big selling point for me, but what the hell.

It has pretty much rendered my phone useless because it does everything my phone does except make calls. Hey, that's funny. I think I'll go back to something that just makes calls. That would be....a telephone!

We had a quiet New Year's Eve at home. We are not apt to partake of the NYE frivolity anyway, both of us having an aversion to loud and crowded bars but our dog prevents some of the socialization we used to get as he's a fifty-pound furry infant.

He's a character and we enjoy him immensely. Regis has taught him several great tricks which we intend to film and publish on Youtube. He can count to three, do a couple of easy math problems like two plus two and the square root of nine. He can answer a couple of easy questions. It's very amusing.

A cardinal in the bird feeder with his tail pointing into the wind almost was up-ended. Poor thing.

I'm working on my menu and grocery list for the next few weeks. It's a little hard to think of going back to normal cooking instead of big meals and left-overs.

I just got done with my major art project for River Rock. I have been dragging my feet on this for a long time because I feel inadequate about my artistic ability. I had the brain storm to do a collage instead of some fancy and elegant looking thing. Collage is probably more in keeping with our style anyway. It was fun and I think they look great. I did three for the staff and one for the farmers.

Moving on. Going to a birthday party for Ella at 5:00.