Friday, March 30, 2012

friday night madness

Let's see. I came home early from noon...because I had an overdose of caffeine. I was shaky and light-headed and tired. I don't sleep well (ever) but especially in the afternoon so I curled up in bed and finished my book. When I got up I was not in the mood to make lasagna with kale so we went to Patrick's and had some chicken wings. They were doing an Oberon tasting so we scored some beer swag and came home early to finish the movie Travels with My Aunt. That's the story of Friday at our house. Good night and see you in a few days.

Gus and the movie

This is the report card Gus got for playing at the Paw yesterday. (Interesting that there are not descriptors that could have been used for our previous dogs: cantankerous and snappish.) Gus loves going to the Paw. This report card is similar to the one Elliot brings home from his daycare.

Regis and I had a nice afternoon although we went to see the movie The Hunger Games. It was way too stimulating for me. I was on high alert for much of the movie and figure I paid 11 dollars for a bag of popcorn because I spent most of the movie with my eyes closed. If you're a fan of the book, you might like it. The people looked like the Whos down in Whoville so it was hard to comprehend the level of violence they were enjoying.

 Mayor of Whoville- Mayor of District 12
See what I mean?

I went to the Pulse this morning at 5 a.m. to open it for Rachel, who is out of town on some errand or other. I was supposed to be relieved at 6:15 but the dude didn't show up and by 7:15 I was freezing and tired and starving. I'm home now, finally, and eating oatmeal while I draw my hot bath!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

the wind has blown more than dirt

I think March went with the wind, too. Is it part of getting older that the days don't seem to slow down but to just get faster and faster all the time?

We had all three grandchildren here for dinner and play last night. There was a lot of what you see in the pictures: hugging, hilarity, funny-face making, and doggy dismay. Gus ate a few small toy parts and snatched an unattended bread stick. All in all, it was a fun evening.

We were at the park and Alex and Elliot were on some riding toys. Alex asked me to make an elephant noise and I did my best. He made a face and said his dad's elephant noise is much better. I think I can be glad for that. Or at least not sad.

Ella did a great job of keeping the boys in line. She made announcements like, "We are not crossing the street until you boys hold my hands!" and " I am not pushing the merry-go-round until you boys sit down!" I told her she was a good big sister and cousin to be so attentive to the boys.

I think I learned (or re-learned) a lesson about food when small children are in attendance. The simpler the better and don't go to too much trouble. I made marinara from scratch and Regis made breadsticks...too much fussing and not enough result. Ella enjoyed all of it but the boys were way too busy to eat much. Maybe next time we go to Patrick's for chicken strips and tator tots.

One of the nice things (there are many many many) about being around small children is that they are delighted by everything. These are some of the things that amused and delighted the little ones last night: a jet plane streaking across the sky, a rabbit hopping through the park, a dog name Roger, a dog named Zoey, a dog named Waldo, a dog named Sadie (seeing a pattern?), swinging, the train whistle, a motorcycle passing on the street, strawberry popsicles, each other. It was sweet.

It's been a very busy week for some ordinary reasons. I did some fun things at work...delivered a big lunch order and hosted a senior citizen bank tour luncheon. I wanted to ask when the old people were coming because some of those folks looked about my age. What the hell, I say.

I took Gus out early this morning and the sky was beautiful. Made it worth waking up at 4 a.m. Well, almost. Gus is going to daycare again this afternoon, which will delight him. Regis takes him to the dog park several times a week and he loves that. What's not to love if you are a dog? Regis said all the dogs clump up around the gate whenever a new dog arrives, they sniff each other to say hello, they romp madly together, and they walk in the mud. It's like dog heaven.

There you go. Regis tells me that they have found a way to extend the current sporting tournament into April.   That's a special kind of madness.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

the doldrums of winter have passed

It seems I am more productive with the growing light. I'm not cleaning out the garage or anything, but I am making spaghetti sauce and crab cakes (not for the same meal) and a lasagna with kale and hot Italian sausage.

All three of our grandchildren will be here tomorrow night for dinner and they're having spaghetti. Every time one or the other is here, they look for the other one. Where's Elliot? Where's Alex and Ella? Surprise! They're all here!

Ella and I are going shopping for an Easter dress next Tuesday. We love to buy dresses, don't we Ella?

I dislike the wind mightily so I may have to spend the day in the basement. There is also (I can hardly believe this...) a fire warning. What the hell do you do about that? I told Regis to build a raft so we can escape down the river.

It's like when those random shootings were occurring in one of the large cities (Washington, DC?) and they advised that you not walk in a straight line. I practiced that because it was such an outrageous thing to suggest. I could picture all the citizens of Washington, zig-zagging down the street like they'd had too much Chardonnay.

I have a lot of unreasonable fears. Some days I keep them at bay, some days I don't. If I'm not talking about them (because I know they're unreasonable and will make me sound crazy) it doesn't mean they aren't lurking in the back of my mind.

Everybody has them. My cousin won't buy consignment clothes because they could contain dead skin and bugs. A friend of mine won't take baths because she has to scrub the tub so thoroughly that it's a lot of work. (I'll take a bath right after the dog.) I have another friend who worries about the wheels of big trucks coming off as she passes them on the highway. I worry about that but I tend to worry about major disasters more than small ones. It's why I won't watch movies about zombies or earthquakes or asteroids.

I'm reading the funniest book. The title is Travels with My Aunt and it's by Graham Greene. Here's what he says about the book:

Graham Greene on Travels with My Aunt:
If A Burnt-Out Case in 1961 represented the depressive side of a manic-depressive writer, Travels with My Aunt eight years later surely represented the manic at its height—or depth.
… Travels with My Aunt is the only book I have written for the fun of it. Although the subject is old age and death – a suitable subject to tackle at the age of sixty-five – and though an excellent Swedish critic described the novel justly as "laughter in the shadows of the gallows," I experienced more of the laughter and little of the shadow in writing it. When I began with the scene of the cremation of Henry Pulling’s supposed mother and his encounter with Aunt Augusta I didn’t believe for a moment that I would continue the novel for more than a few days. I didn’t even know what the next scene was likely to be – I didn’t know that Augusta was Henry’s mother. Every day when I sat down before the blank sheets of foolscap (for as symbol of my new freedom I had abandoned the single lined variety where the lines seemed to me now like the bars on a prison window) I had no idea what was going to happen to Henry or Augusta next. I felt like a rider who has dropped the reins and left the direction to his horse or like a dreamer who watches his dream unfold without power to alter its course. I felt above all that I had broken for good or ill with the past.
I was even irresponsible enough to include some private jokes which no reader would understand. Why not? I didn’t expect to have any readers. So I christened "Detective-Sergeant Sparrow, John" after that elegant scholar the ex-Warden of All Souls, Augusta’s black lover "Wordsworth" after a villainous District Commissioner whom I had met more than thirty years before in Liberia, Mr. Visconti’s son "Mario" after my friend Mario Soldati who once greeted me and gave me lunch in Milan station with similar flamboyance on my way to Istanbul. I remember I even found room for Kingsley Amis’s surname which I gave to a character on whom I can’t at the moment lay my finger. The name Visconti for Aunt Augusta’s lover was adapted from my favourite character in Marjorie Bowen’s The Viper of Milan which I had loved as a boy, and it gave me an innocent amusement when I heard Detective Sparrow describing him as a viper. Some critics have found in the book a kind of resume of my literary career—a scene in Brighton, the journey on the Orient Express, and perhaps a hint of this did come to my mind by the time Aunt Augusta arrived at the Pera Palace, but what struck me with some uneasiness, when I reread the book the other day, were the suggestions I found in it of where the future was going to take me. The boat which carried Henry Pulling from Buenos Aires to Asuncion stopped for half an hour during the night in the little river harbour of Corrientes in northern Argentina, but I had no idea that I would be landing there from a plane some years later in search of the right setting for The Honorary Consul. Consul.

It's very entertaining. I started reading it to avoid The Hunger Games. (See paragraph about unreasonable fears.) Ha!

Well, off into the day. I have a lot of social calendar planning on my agenda in the next few days: Easter dinner, the wine trip, River Rock's anniversary party, our birthday party in June, and probably a couple other things I have forgotten for the moment. I better get busy!

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Regis played this little video for me on google tv tonight. It's from and it's Billy Collins reading some of his poems and showing animated shorts made by Sundance from others. It's really wonderful. I love the quote: When you get a poem [in a public place], it happens to you so suddenly that you don't have time to deploy your anti-poetry deflector shields that were installed in high school.

A guy could keep busy for a long time watching stuff on

Here's what we had for dinner. Seared scallops and seared tuna with mango salsa. It was delicious.


It's such a pain in the neck to trade winter clothes for summer clothes in my tiny closet that I told Regis I had a great idea for an invention. (I don't think this means I have technically invented it...just imagined it.) I described a closet on a winch system where you could push a button and one closet would travel into a storage space below and the other closet would travel up into the space for current seasonal clothing. It would be like a pair of giant dumb waiters. Good idea, no?

We had this mopish foggy morning that finally broke out into sunshine about the time I retreated to a dark room to read a book on my kindle. Just my luck.

I had lunch with my friend, Joanne, today. We lingered over nachos and wine, walked through the shops downtown, and had a fine time. We should do it more often.

I'm going out for dinner, too, to celebrate the 38th birthday of a coworker and friend at Patrick's. I thought long and hard about what to buy for a little birthday memento and finally settled on a glass Viking ship from the Swedish shop. I told Regis it's because we always talk philosophically about life. He missed the point and maybe she will, too, so I better include a brief note about the meaning of my gift. Uff da and ha!

I realized this morning while making my menu and grocery list for the next few weeks, that Easter is in two weeks. I had to decide if I wanted to do a traditional meal (ham) or a maverick meal (pulled pork sandwiches). Think we're going with the ham.

Regis is cutting coupons out of the paper. On one page, Maxi-pads. On the next page: Depends. He asked if I needed either one and then made the observation that I am right in between. Ha. In the transition phase. Ha.

I always carry a small notepad around with me for my random thoughts and things I want to remember. I had it on my lap as we drove to Mankato on Friday, then left it with Regis in case he thought of something. When I looked at it yesterday, he had written this:

  1. Cogito ergo sum
  2. String bikinis
  3. Bald faced lies
He cracks me up.

Early Sunday morning and I am in the midst of muffin baking, grocery list making, and planning for the day. I'm going out and about on my bicycle but probably need to go to the coop with the car unless I want to pull the wagon behind and that would look a little weird.

Better get on with the day. There may be a report filed later. You just never know.

Friday, March 23, 2012

consignment shopping

I swore a few weeks ago that I was not bringing one more piece of clothing into my house but today, I made a visit to Encore in Mankato where I purchased four skirts, two belts, and two tops for 80 dollars. I also made an appointment to go back with what I clean out of my closet. Ha!

I like to do that thing where you find a look for two hundred dollars and reproduce it with thrift and consignment store purchases for twenty. I'm not sure I did a great job but I did a passable job. What a hoot.

Because I like to shop at this store so much, I brought a birthday party invitation to one of the employees. Another woman (about my age) asked me if this was our 60th wedding anniversary party. WTF lady.

As promised, the revised flashlight collection.

We watched a movie from the 70s last night and ten minutes from the end, I learn that the main character does not make it out of the movie alive. I hate that. I like more redemption in my entertainment, meaning that I like to have things end in a rosy and uplifting manner. Don't give me that shit that real life isn't like is if I believe it is.

So, now Regis wants me to go and see a futuristic  movie where lots of people kill each other and plot to kill the ones who aren't dead yet. Yeah. What a nice way to spend an afternoon. I told him I would give it a whack but I have been known to take long naps in movies like this. I didn't make it through one of the Lord of the Rings movies without a nap. Too many sword fights for my taste.

The weather will be gorgeous tomorrow. My bike is getting tuned up and I am going off on some errands. Look for me pedaling down the street.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

dog treats

Regis and I made homemade dog treats this afternoon. It was a rainy day and we felt like puttering in the kitchen. Dog treats are as good as anything. They were easy and the recipe made a lot of treats. Gus had a few of them and now he's taking a nap behind the chair.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

middle of the night

In the middle of the night, Regis shouts, "Wake up! Somebody's coming to the door!" I gasp and sit up because I see a flashing light. I look toward the curtained window and see zombies. I realize the light is my cell phone and that Regis is dreaming. With a pounding heart, I spend the next hour waiting for the Ambien to take effect and writing this sentence in my head.

I had my annual check-up with my head doctor yesterday. She's retiring the end of the month so unless I feel myself really whacking out, I'll move on without her. She has helped me sort through a lot of stuff in my life. I hugged her when I left and thanked her for her part in my happiness. I'll miss her as a friend and as a professional therapist.

When we dropped Gus off at Young Regis's house the other day, my husband spotted this flashlight hanging by their door. Regis loves flashlights. Put flashlight in the blog search bar and see what you get. It's a long-standing obsession for him which he compares to my shoes and boots but I said you can only use one flashlight at a time.

So, he had to order this flashlight. I knew he wouldn't be able to resist it.

Rayovac SE4W3C Sportsman Xtreme 3C 4-Watt LED Metal Flashlight

This was his collection in 2007.

I'm going to ask him to photograph the current collection today. (He claims that none of these flashlights in the photo are currently in use.) If any of the other Fritsch men are reading this, here's the challenge. Take a picture of your flashlight collection and email it to me. I'll post them here. It's a flashlight-off!

We watched the episodes of Cheers last night where Woody and Kelly get married. It's about twenty years old but we laughed until we cried, just like we did the first time we watched it. Carla going up and down in that dumb waiter is about the funniest thing ever.

We have a group of thirty people, in the age range of 65-70 coming into the coffee shop today. Of course, the twenty-somethings I work with are ready to get out the wheel chairs and walkers. Ah, to be young and think that everyone older than you is old. I don't think anyone is old anymore.

Going the Pulse this morning, then to work. Hope those old people can make it in the door. Hahaha!

Monday, March 19, 2012

driving and abandoning books

If you put each person's quirky habits on a Venn diagram, would it look like this?

I abandon books rather quickly. Right now, there are about three books that are on the edge for different reasons. Do I have a short attention span?

My driving habits don't fit for someone with SAS (short attention span). I like to pick a lane and a spot (behind a truck) and stay there. I could drive all the way to South America in the same lane, if it were possible. Is it?

Oh, shit. I just read on Facebook that today is Meatless Monday and I just finished putting the biggest meatloaf ever (stuffed with provolone and prosciutto ham) into the oven. It's made from real beef from real cows out by LeCenter so maybe that gives me a few points. Sometimes too much information is too much information, right?

I woke up early and worked out with Rachel. She had me doing some sadistic exercise where I had to drag my whole body across the studio floor with my hands. Am I too old for this?

This is not me. I don't know who this woman is...I just grabbed her picture off the internets so don't write me and complain about it. It looks to me like she's trying to crawl over to that bar which might be a good idea. I think I'll suggest that next time.

I worked all morning on stuff I have been putting on a list of things to do and then forgetting about anyway. Then I tried to take a nap but the wind and the heat are disturbing. My neighbors daffodils came up almost overnight and now they're already almost dead. They lived three days tops. What the hell. Last year, my daffodils lasted almost a month. It was cool and wet, if you recall.

Regis is in the other room watching The Walking Dead. I don't have much of an interest in zombies. Or futuristic things. He asked me if I wanted to go see The Hunger Games. I asked what it was about and I really only wanted a one sentence answer like this: It's about a group of people in the future. I would have said nah, I don't want to see that. I have as narrow a menu of movies that I like as books. No violence, no murder, no mayhem, no futuristic stuff. I like reality and not much of it. Ha!

My cousin is in Florida visiting friends. She sent me a picture of a woman is going to be 104 on Saturday. I won't publish the picture because that might violate her privacy but I will tell you she is gorgeous, dressed in lively colors and a big hat. After she posed for a few pics, she asked Deb to take a picture of a hot guy by the pool in swim trunks. That is some spirit!

I just rediscovered Mark Knopfler. I have several of his CDs but they are buried in a box somewhere I can't find them. I have uploaded a lot of music to the cloud, whatever that means, so I found them there. Thank God for the cloud, whatever that is. Check out this Dilbert cartoon if you have wondered the same thing.

Does anybody else think the birds sound crazy? My theory is that it's early spring so the trees of full of those creepy birds like grackles, starlings, and red winged blackbirds. Usually, it's colder so we have the windows closed but with the weather so unseasonably warm, the doors and windows are open and it sounds like a bird revolution. The grackle is some bad ass bird. This one is giving the evil eye.

Don't make eye contact if you see them outside!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

st. patty's day

Here's the Guinness Chocolate Cake. It popped right out of the pan but then I had a little trouble with the ganache. It got good reviews, though, and I took slabs of it to the neighbors in my shamrock apron.

Here we are at the parade. I'm going to write a separate review of the parade which I did not enjoy very much this year and I don't want to cast a pall over a normally cheerful holiday post by being cranky.

Ella and Elliot trying to keep the sand out of their eyes.

The guy in the green top hat had one of the best jacket and knee pants, boots, and the giant top hat. It was too windy and too crowded to bother with a better photo. That's Mary's Flowers van in the background. Mary...where fun and flowers meet.

I put corned beef and carrots and onions in the crock pot in the morning, added cabbage about noon and when I came home from the parade, we had this delicious dinner with a nice chunk of soda bread.

On second thought, here is my list of grievances regarding the parade. Please remember that this is not a scientific study and most of this information is presented as exaggeration for effect.
  1. First of all, it was very windy and humid. This is a problem for several reasons one of which is my costume. I have green and white striped tights and green and white arm warmers, a red wig, and a felt derby. It was too hot for most of that and a partial costume is just...a partical costume.
  2. The heat and the wind made for little gusts of sand blowing down the street. You might expect this if you are at a parade in Saudi Arabia but generally not here and not in March. It was weird.
  3. The weather (must mean lack of snow) meant that there were record crowds. Third Street is not made for record crowds so it was nuts to butts making the next few items even more annoying.
  4. Of the estimated ten thousand people lining the four block stretch of Third Street, eight thousand were either drunk or had a dog or a bicycle or both. Do dogs really enjoy parades? Really, all they get to see are the butt cracks of the people sitting in front of them and they don't get the marching bands. In my world, the rule is that the dog stays home unless the dog is in the parade.
  5. Same with bicycles. If you are riding a bicycle to the parade, chain it to a tree a block away and walk over. Do not attempt to ride a bicycle through a street crowded with drunks, small children, and dogs.
  6. Unruly and over-sized children. I'm not sure the age of these children...they were more like teens and pre-teens but they were excited about the smashed tootsie rolls and left-over from the last parade candy being strewn in the street. Ella and Elliot figured out pretty fast that there was a code of conduct: stay in your area, don't get too far out into the street, share with the kids smaller than you. Not these big oafs. They had a grocery bag full and were still cruising the small kids area like land sharks.
  7. People who try to drive and park a car as close to the parade route as possible and then try to leave when the streets are still full of dogs, bicycles, drunks, and small children. I'll be amazed if nobody got run over.
  8. Drunk college kids who play football on crowded streets. I love dodging a football as I try to make my way home with two small children. (No bicycle or dog.)
  9. Gigantic tractors. Somebody drove a tractor the size of our house to town and down a crowded street. It had giant wheels that went practically from curb to curb and were as high as an adult person. Really? You have to drive something this big to a parade? It looked like this:

I have been in a bit of a funk. Funk is not the right word...neurotic, anxious, fearful, blue, agitated. An unpleasant combination of symptoms. There is hope in that I think it's interesting when that happens that all of a sudden, other things start happening that you the way out, maybe a book review, a person you meet, or even a movie. Just now, I read an article and two book reviews that will be helpful. Moving on...always moving on.

Enjoy the day. I'm really not as cranky as I seem. Ha!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

trying to get in the mood

I decided that I am going to make the Guinness Chocolate Cake and give it away. I don't want to eat it but I want to make it more. Does that make sense? I am also making Irish soda bread...wearing my shamrock apron. Mary Smith just delivered flowers to Mike Callahan across the street. Mary, her usual festive self, saw me and ran across the street to hug and dance. What a hoot.

Also have an Irish Soda Bread in the oven.

I ran into a crazy friend of mine at the liquor store about 10:30. She was sampling various wines and I asked her if she was having breakfast at MGM this morning. We laughed about that and she wondered if the wine I bought at the wine tasting was gone. Oh, long gone, I said.

Reasons why things suck sometimes in no particular order

I have written several of these kinds of posts over the years. Things that annoy me in no particular order. Things that suck in no particular order. I must have a sort of sarcastic side, eh?

We have decided that we like Gus with longer hair but he's still a handsome dog.

I have some of my St. Patrick's Day gear on but the weather is not conducive to my usual state of preparedness. A wig and a hat and long socks don't wear well when it's over 70 degrees. St. Patrick's Day is usually during the tail end of winter, not the middle of what feels like summer.

I was just reading about a St. Patrick's Day cupcake which got a lot of heat for being too politically incorrect. I'm not even going to name it here since I got spanked for the 80s mullet rock star jacket post. What a chicken. I don't like conflict; what can I say?

The cupcake is a lot like my Guinness cake only it's a cupcake with a ganache filling that's flavored with Irish whiskey. If you put Irish cupcakes in google, you'll probably find it. If you don't and you know me, I'll tell you if you promise not to write me scathing messages about my taste in cupcake names. They sound grand and they make me what to have a party just to try them out.

Well, off to the parade.

elliot, driving, and abandoning books

Elliot came to visit his Nana and PopPop (I never know how to spell that dang word) yesterday. I picked him up at Beans after school and we had spaghetti for dinner (delicious!) and cookies on the patio. He liked to name the animals in the garden (frog and cockadoo) and he liked to spot birds in the sky. He has a three-year old's attention span...would that be about three minutes?...and wanted to do everything and play with everything and eat everything. All of it, right now. He's a good-natured little guy and we had fun.

Driving and abandoning books are probably two subjects to be dealt with at a later time. It's St. Patrick's Day and I have a corned beef to get into the crock pot before long. We're going to the parade and will probably get into some other mischief before the day is done. Here's a picture of Regis and me from last St. Patty's Day. Last year, we got into the spirit of it, as you can see. I'm not sure I'm feeling the same spirit this year but we'll see.

Love the holiday!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Gus goes to the dog park

This dog gets out more than I do. Ha!

Gus goes to daycare

We dropped Gus off at daycare about noon. He did not appear anxious and all and trotted happily off with the woman who would take him to the play area where they were having "quiet time". I inquired, because I pictured thirty dogs lying on little cots while a person in the front reads a book. She said they lower the lights and try to get them to calm down for a while. Good luck with that, I said.

We picked him up at 4:30 and the reports were that he had a wonderful time. He's very playful, she said. They had a little swimming pool in the outdoor area and Gus like to run through the water. Gus was happy to see us and promptly collapsed in the back seat for a nap.

It was like having small children and finally getting a day away and suddenly you don't know what to do. We don't shop much so that was out. Finally, we visited a few coffee shops, Encore in Old Town, Famous Dave's bar, and then had dinner at Pappageorge where our favorite server, Layla, took care of us. What a grand day.

Then we came home to the beautiful patio weather. I love being out and visiting with the neighbors. All winter, you just wave as you pass on the street but you rarely see each other face to face. This is so much fun!

I'm picking Elliot up after school today. Great start to a weekend...and the parade tomorrow! Life is good!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

today holds lots of promise

Gus is going to dog daycare today. Regis did a test run yesterday by taking him to the dog park in Mankato to see how he reacted to a large group of dogs. He loved it so we're good to go. He came home a little muddy but a quick bath helped with that.

Gus gets dropped off at The Paw Pet Resort (doesn't it look plush?) at noon and we have about five hours of grown-up time! We're going to visit a couple of coffee shops and then have dinner somewhere. We haven't been to Papageorge in ages. So much good little time.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

my dirty little secret

I am terrible at parking. I look a long time for a space where I can be off by my lone-car self and where I do not have to impinge on the space of another person's vehicle. I often (always) have to back up and re-park several (many) times to get even reasonably within the lines of the parking space. It can be (is) embarrassing. Ironically, I am better at parallel parking than I am at diagonal parking. I blame it on the car.

Gary Hannah was my driving instructor in 1966 (right?). He taught us to gauge how far away from the line on the highway we were based on the hood ornament. I almost hit a couple bikers in the 80's when hoods became shorter and that was not a reliable measure. I'm not blaming Gary who is my mom's neighbor and takes good care of her driveway. I blame myself. I'm a terrible parker and probably not a very good driver.

Yesterday, my neighbor Mike was cleaning out his garage and he stacked a bunch of plywood and insulation on the boulevard. Getting into the spirit, I hauled a ratty looking lawn chair to the curb. We love how people slow down, come around the block, and stash your old shit in their trunks. I don't care how much you make on a garage sale, it ain't even close to the entertainment value of putting stuff on your curb.

We realized last night that Mike's shit was getting way more attention  from the passers-by than our lawn chair so we hauled the chair across the street and added it to Mike's pile. By this morning, the lawn chair was gone. Great marketing, right? By this afternoon, all of Mike's crap was gone, thanks to neighborhood hoarders who can't let free stuff go to waste.

Next time, we promised to make the initial pile and Mike gets to add to it. I wish we had gotten pictures of the whole shebang which was a damn hoot.

We had a wonderful afternoon sitting on the patio with a glass of wine, a neighbor or two stopping by, and the early spring sun. Here's to global warming. (Don't use this in your science report, junior high kid.)

spring burn-out

Yesterday. Worked at coffee shop from 6 a.m. to 7:30. Went home, worked liked crazy until 9:00, away all the party gear. Worked on coffee shop stuff until 11. Went back to coffee shop until 12:30. Came home and swept patio and sidewalk. Raked and bagged leaves and sticks from front yard and boulevard. Addressed birthday party invitations. Tried to nap. Failed at nap. Got up and sat on the patio again until time to make dinner.

As has happened in the past four to five years, when I stir up the leaves in the spring, every spore and mold and piece of dust for ten miles around go up my nose and do the tarantella on my cerebellum. It's unpleasant and creates a feeling like I have a giant Mason jar over my head. Everything is just a bit off and I hugely fatigued.

Too much. Too much work and not enough sleep. Insomnia sucks. Allergies suck. Starting over today.

I had a failed attempt to deliver a 6:45 a.m.birthday breakfast to a customer. Not starting out on the right foot. I came home and took a long nap. Much better.

Softly scrambled eggs help. And a sliced orange.

I should be more like Julia Child. I'm reading her biography and that was one tough dame.

Our street is being cleaned this week. This project must take the city months if they do all streets with the diligence with they are doing ours. It's nice to have the gravel swept up so I can start riding my bike to work again.

This is my favorite coffee drink. The minute I walk in the door, Josh starts constructing one. It's made with two shots of espresso and steamed milk. I love the art he makes in the milk. It makes me feel like I'm drinking something very special. The art stays until you reach the bottom of the cup. Don't get it in a to-go cup because that will keep the milk on the top and you'll drink the espresso first. You want it to mix a little as you drink. Haven't I learned a lot?

Better get to work.

Monday, March 12, 2012

dinner pictures

This harkens back to the reason I started this blog in the first place. I called it Buns of Stone because Regis and I decided to do the community ed class that required us to walk 500 miles in a year. (That was when we thought we could lose weight by exercising.) We quickly figured out (like within a month) that if you missed two days, you were screwed because you had to walk a bazillion miles over the next three days. Bad decisions make good stories.

My intention was to post a photo of our dinner every night which I have not done and probably will not do. We like to take pictures of our food and do so frequently but I can't do it daily.

This is the grilled flank steak we made last night. It's surrounded by a little sea of grilled red peppers and onions. We have an IKEA cast iron grill for the vegetables that works like a charm but weighs about a hundred pounds. This is one of our favorite meals.

This is the meatloaf that George Stella on the food network calls beefed up meatloaf. It calls for prosciutto and provolone in the middle...and we use a spicy St. Louis Barbecue Sauce on the top. Regis said it was the best meatloaf he has ever eaten. Once I put hot peppers in the middle but it got a little too hot.

I have started about three books in the last week and abandoned them all. One was probably a very good book (Devil in the White City) and I liked the parts about the Chicago World's Fair, but I cannot read about psychopaths. I started another book called Fifty Shades of Gray. It's supposed to be the hottest thing on three continents. I read two chapters and thought it was so dumb I could not go any further. It supposedly contains erotica but I didn't get far enough to find any of that. It reminded me of The Bridges of Madison County. I started Amercian Dervish this morning but that bored me pretty fast and now I'm reading the biography (one of them) of Julia Child. I'm hard to please.

Yes, we eat a lot of beef. We like meat and we especially like beef. No apologies. We try to buy our meat from a farmer in the country who treats his cattle humanely and all of that. We tried to buy a share of a beef CSA but the market apparently won't support that. Whatever that means. 

So, no blog posts from me for a week and then all of a sudden three in one day. You just never know.

I had to go to work for a brief spell this evening. When I got home, Regis was watching some awful zombie show. I have a low, low tolerance for zombies. Too much blood. I skittered into the office and only came out when it was over.

I went to the Coop the other day and was musing in front of the mustard shelf. A fellow came along and recommended Lucky's mustard with habanero peppers and garlic. I bought some and now I can recommend it, too. It's made in North Mankato in some dude's garage. I guess everybody starts somewhere. Lucky has several varieties of mustard so Jill, you may have to try several!

I spent half the day on the phone calling for appointments for things I have neglected for weeks. Tomorrow my car gets cleaned...detailed, I guess they call it. Gus has a daycare appointment. I still have to call for a massage and to make the final arrangements for the wine trip. I need a secretary.

I had a latte when I was at the coffee shop so now I have to have a glass of wine to counter-act the effects of caffeine. It's no wonder I have insomnia. See #3 in the post called 23 Adult Truths.

I loathe daylight savings time. I remember the spring forward and fall back thing but I can never remember if daylight savings time is starting or ending. If you are awake at both ends of the day, does it really matter? You have the same amount of daylight, my friends. Anyway, half of my clocks, like the one in my car and the ones at the place where I exercise are stuck in what my Grandma Elsie called "sun time", whatever that means. So, I'm always in this weird time warp where I have no idea what the hell time it is. 

More tomorrow. I'm sure.

23 Adult Truths

Usually things like this don't amuse me enough to even forward them on, much less move me to post them here but I laughed out loud several times in the reading of this list. First of all, I wonder how the person who wrote this list came up with 23. Ha! My favorite is #11. Wish I could give credit to the author but it's like all that crap out in cyberspace...who knows?

1. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still do not
know what time it is.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize
you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How on earth are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I
know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the
person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind-of-tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work
when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest
of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't
want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if
I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did
not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to
answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or
Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Light than Kay's

17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

19. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and
smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to
prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and

21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty,
and you can wear them forever.

22. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys
in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but
I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in
about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

23. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and
the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to
realize that their brain is also important.


Gus got his summer cut today and he looks way more poodle and way less doodle. His fur (hair?) is getting more knotty as he gets older and we thought this would be easier to maintain. I'm sure it will be I like his big, old fluffy face.

We also (hating to admit this) made a reservation for him to go to a half day of doggy day care on Thursday. We used to poke a little fun at people who did this before but we didn't have a dog like Gus before either. Gus does not like to be left alone. Thanks to his IEP, he is much better about it and will spend almost an hour in his crate without wigging out. We can even leave the house and he doesn't bark. Progress in baby steps.

Have to go back to work for a while now. More later...maybe.

the week & sunday in pictures

On winter evenings when it's dark and cold, we sit and plan parties. I got the happy notion one evening that a photography party would be fun, given our love of costumes and crazy pictures. Well, don't you know, photo booth parties are a big thing now. You can even rent one, which we did not do. I guess they're big at weddings.

We just issued an invitation for people to bring props, we set up a bench in front of the curtains in the living room, and Regis found an app for his iPad that would take a strip of pictures like this.

Not everyone at the party was comfortable with the public nature of my blog and Facebook page so I'm not going to publish all the photos here out of respect for that. But I didn't think Richie would mind so here we are. Gus liked to be in every shot.

This is Gus looking for a place to nap this morning. He's a dog who likes his leisure. He gets slicked up at Kind's tomorrow so he'll be clean and smaller after that!

This is NOT Gus but it looks like it could be him. Isn't this a riot? This dog must be smaller than Gus because I don't think there is any way you could carry him like this person is doing.

A couple of recipes requested by our guests last night. The first one is what we always use on chicken wings now and it's a nice bitey flavor without the slop of wing sauce. Better on the grill but acceptable in the oven at 375 degrees for almost an hour.

Chesapeake Bay Seasoning

2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground celery seed
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
This is our favorite barbecue sauce. Regis discovered in his search for the perfect rib recipe. We don't always use it on ribs now since he learned to how to make a glaze out of the braising liquid by reducing it. This is still good on almost anything else. We served it last night on pulled beef sandwiches. I even made buns...Vi Hanson's Bread Machine Buns!

St. Louis Barbecue Sauce
Yield: Makes about 3 1/2 cups

2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat. Stirring occasionally and simmer for 20 minutes. Sauce should be thin, but not watery. Allow to cool. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate. Sauce is better if allow to sit for a day.

Wine Trip

We're planning another wine trip for April 21st. This year, we're going to Crow River in Hutchinson and Sovereign Estates in Waconia. Should be a good time.

I don't know why I didn't get this posted yesterday, but here it is now.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

spring and dirty windows

A spring late afternoon sun is coming in the west window. I love it. It makes me think of gardening and barbecue and Easter and lilacs. I worry about getting old and infirm. Does everybody worry about that or just me with my ridiculous fears? Spring helps you remember the possibilities and forget about the likelihood of bad shit in your life.

Regis and I went to Mankato and dropped the stuff off for Linda. He offered to take me to Encore, my favorite consignment shop. I went in dressed in my recent purchases....a red hat and a faux fur that cost me $11.25. I found some great spring clothes for a total less than $50. 

We went to Famous Dave's and had a beer and bought some ribs and chicken wings. We came home, put on some Reverend Raven, had another beer, and ate an early dinner. There was some finger-lickin' goin' on, believe me.

We're making birthday party plans. The invitations (revised) should be here this week and we'll get them out. We're making dinner for the Reverend Raven and his band in the afternoon so we talked about the perfection of the rib recipe, the construction of the new grill, and the other menu possibilities. 

We also checked on the Paw Pet Resort in Mankato. They do dog daycare for less than twenty dollars a day and it looks like something Gus would love. He's a social dog and loves people and other animals. This is unlike (UNLIKE) our previous pets who shunned other dogs and bit strange people. Gus will be staying there for a day or two over our birthday party.

Here is a strange observation. We saw today, many snow plows on the roads, plowing mostly dry roads. We had a steady snow but it mostly melted as it came down. There was no accumulation to speak of and what the hell were they plowing anyway? Especially in Blue Earth County where you can always tell when you've crossed over because the roads are terrible there....but today the plows were out in force. Regis and I talked about county government and county budgets and just WTF this means.We have no idea.

Well, on to Monday and the rest of the week. I have a daughter turning 27 in March and a son turning 25 in April. How did the time go by so fast? Regis says it's like a stair case to the middle of your life then it's a slippery slide to the end. Nice visual, eh?

christmas in march!

Regis went up to Tom and Betty's house yesterday morning to do some computer work. I was lying in bed reading when I saw him pull up and emerge from the car carrying a fur coat. I bolted right up out of bed and met him at the door like a kid on Christmas morning. I put it right on and paraded around the house..a gorgeous mink cape over top of pajamas. It belonged to Tom's mom, Patty, and he's had it since she passed away some years ago. I feel honored to own it now.

I got dressed later and had Regis tote me downtown. It was a sunny day, although quite cold and windy, and I wanted to walk through a few shops before meeting Amber for a late lunch at Cedar's Grill. I went into Cooks and Company to get some of that sterno stuff for our table-top grill. Of course, I was distracted by this and that and bought other things, but not that.

I went into Swedish Kontur but there were other customers and they were boisterous and annoying so I left and went to Contents. I bought some signs of spring: a little bird nest that I will send to Mom, some Easter egg napkins, and a lilac scented candle. Nothing evokes spring quite like the smell of lilacs.

One thing about shopping in St. Peter is that everywhere you go, you run into people you know. And you know the shop keepers and the employees. Everyone wants to visit. It takes a lot longer than it otherwise would. It's nice though...I ran into a woman who was a nurse for my kids when they were little who I hadn't seen in more than twenty years.

I was dressed in my typical flamboyant fashion and a woman commented to me that she liked my get-up. I thanked her and said that was exactly the look I was trying to achieve. Ha!

We had a lovely lunch and a couple glasses of wine. Tony made me crab cakes even though it was mid-afternoon and I had a tabbouleh salad.

I have crab cakes on the menu this week. They're one of my favorite foods. With a nice chipotle aioli. Also on the menu this week: grilled steak on Tuesday when it gets to be 60 degrees! This is how I make it: 
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder or chipotle hot sauce
  • Salt and pepper
Note added later: Sorry for the ragged segue. This is the recipe for aioli not the recipe for steak. Jeez. What a mutton head. 

We have grilled at least once in every month through this winter which is unusual for us since we use charcoal. It's too hard to keep the grill at the right temperature when it's twenty below.

I've been thinking about growing vegetables this summer. We belong to a CSA and get a share box every week, but I would still like to grow a few things. I think my options are to put some things in pots or to tear up the front of my flower garden on the west side which is the only place we get any sun. Well, there is a piece in the back but I'm not sure it would be possible to keep the dog out of a garden in the back. He thinks that's his race track.

We're taking a trip to Mankato later to drop some things off at the accountant's office for work. While we're there, we'll stop at Famous Dave's for a beer and some take-out ribs. I know it's a chain but I love that bar. The waitress is always friendly, they play great blues, and the smell of barbecue is enough to make you swoon. We like to eat the ribs right out of the take-out box with a cold beer. It reminds us of the poem Half-Rack at the Rendevouz.

Half-Rack at the Rendezvouz  by William Notter  

She had a truck, red hair,
and freckled knees and took me all the way
to Memphis after work for barbecue.
We moaned and grunted over plates of ribs
and sweet iced tea, even in a room of strangers,
gnawing the hickory char, the slow
smoked meat peeling off the bones,
and finally the bones. We slurped
grease and dry-rub spice from our fingers,
then finished with blackberry cobbler
that stained her lips and tongue.

All the trees were throwing fireworks
of blossom, the air was thick
with pollen and the brand-new smell of leaves.
We drove back roads in the watermelon dusk,
then tangled around each other, delirious
as honeybees working wisteria.
I could blame it all on cinnamon hair,
or the sap rising, the overflow of spring,
but it was those ribs that started everything.

Well, I've gone on long enough this morning. I'll get some pictures up later...the mink cape, the half-rack, the St. Patrick's Day tree.

Me in my St. Pat's Get-Up

Saturday, March 03, 2012

busy end of the week

It's a good thing I've been busy because it sort of distracted me from the gray skies. It's easy to get the gloomies this time of year.

Thursday night, we had the ladies and gentlemen of the vignette writing class here for our last class and for some libations. We had a wonderful time reading and talking about writing. The party (or parts of it) went on until midnight which is a sign that a good time was had by all.

Yesterday afternoon, I went out to visit an organic farm that supplies a lot of vegetables for River Rock. Part of our marketing plan is to tell the stories of all the people who have participated in our business and East Henderson Farm is one. It was an amazing visit and I'm going to try to write about it on the River Rock blog this afternoon.

These are two of the goats...two of the four. They are named after the English queens Mary Catherine and Elizabeth. I also met a calf named Buddy, saw a 1942 Farmall tractor that is still in use, had coffee in a home made from a 1865 log cabin, saw a lovely flock of chickens in every color, and met two very nice farmers.

Last night, Tom and Betty came for chicken wings and wine. They just came back from Texas so had lots of stories to tell. It was grand to see them again. As usual, we ate too much, drank too much, and laughed a lot. Betty brought me a magic skirt from Texas that is reminiscent of a magic dress I made in the 70's. You can see how it works here. The ironic thing is that on my last trip to the thrift store, I bought one of these, not knowing all the magical properties of it. Just goes to show.

There are tiny snowflakes in the air that seem to be getting heavier. I wouldn't mind some snow. Driving on the gravel roads yesterday was awful. My car is filthy and I slid all over the place. I had forgotten how messy country roads can be in the spring.

Well, it's 10:30 and I haven't done a thing yet. Better get moving.