Friday, August 31, 2012

boardwalk: not for the faint of heart

I never travel but I have been to New Jersey and seen the famous Boardwalk. It's a lot like the Minnesota State Fair only spread out over many miles along a...well, a boardwalk. In the height of the summer season, it is an ocean of people right next to the real ocean which also scares me. I know about under-tows. I did dabble one foot in when I was there but I had no interest in going any further. I'm pretty sure there are sharks in there, too.

In a fit of nostalgia for his youth, Regis decided we should have a Boardwalk party. Most of the guests will be native Midwesterners who have no idea what this is but fair food is fair food no matter where you go. The menu includes: Italian sausage sandwiches with grilled peppers and onions, soft pretzels, sno cones, pizza, and salt water taffy. No nutrition there, my friends!

We're also making zepoles which look a lot like donut holes to me and I think it would be easier to go the gas station and buy some of those tiny powdered sugar donuts that come in a box.

Zeppoles (mini-donuts, right?)

Regis and I think often that the person who does this cartoon must be spying on us.

When I go to the Pulse, I often do walking lunges with weights. Regis pokes fun at me and says I look like the Minister of Silly Walks. It's a reference to Monty Python which many people are probably too young to remember. (I mentioned Bob Dylan at work one day and one of the young fellows said, "He's really famous, isn't he?") So, here is the Minister of Silly Walks, in case you aren't familiar.

Better get moving. Need to do some silly walking before I go to my job for a couple hours this morning.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

post-apocalypse: two days after the fair

I know it wasn't that bad. Anything for a story, though, and I'm a believer in exaggeration for effect.

I've done some informal polling and I can't find anybody who loves the State Fair and only a few who admit to attending every few years. Some are like me and vow they will never attend again. They all cite the same reasons: crowds, parking, noise, inflated prices, and suffocating heat. There you go. It makes me wonder what the demographic is for the millions of people who are there.

I've had a headache the last two days that makes me feel like I couldn't organize a sack lunch. I used this line on Facebook so you may have read it there. If I come up with a good line, I like to get maximum mileage out of it. No sense in frittering away my best comic moments. Some may not agree that my line is funny but hey, I have a headache; it's the best I can do.

I've been reading historical fiction lately. Like the State Fair, I'm not sure what the attraction is and sometimes it disappoints. I read a book this week called Pope Joan, about a Pope who was really a woman. It was a good story but it bordered on being a bodice ripper. The main male character had long flowing auburn hair, piercing blue eyes, and rippling muscles. In the dark ages? More likely that he had serious BO and bad teeth. It got pretty lame in the end but it made me glad that I wasn't born in 854. Not a good time to be a human being.

Permit me a brief rant about the weather. After several weeks of autumn-like nights and barely warm days, we have reverted to the depths of hell. Humid, windy, and very dry. There is a fire alert. I've read about the Hinkley fire and this makes me very nervous. Regis sent me a photo of the fire alert area which was not comforting. A person like me, with many unreasonable fears, should not be aware of things like that.

I wonder if we should flee. I think if I lived in a hurricane area, I would be out of there the minute they mentioned high winds and the possibility of a wall of water coming down the street. I don't want to live in a place where you have to nail plywood over your windows to keep the sea out.

Regis is having his left knee replaced in October. I don't think I have mentioned that. He has no cartilage in that one either. The doc said that bodies sometimes focus on one area at a time so he wasn't surprised that the left one didn't hurt so much before. We think they'll do the surgery in St. Peter which will be more convenient but I'm worried about the availability of hospital cafeteria food.

Having spent my whole life avoiding crossword puzzles, I have decided that I like them. I bet I've done ten in the last two weeks. Regis and I share the Sunday puzzle and I've been printing them from the internet to do between Sundays. I've also taken up knitting. Crap, it sounds like old people stuff.

Let's see, I've covered my recent headache, my unreasonable fear of fires and hurricanes, and my new hobbies. I bet this was fun to read.

Monday, August 27, 2012

my adventure at the state fair

I realize this is my own personal moral failing, but I cannot find anything to recommend the State Fair. I know a lot of people love it and some even go there every year. My last trip was probably 20+ years ago and I don't care if the next one is at least that far into the future.

I saw in the paper that there were 150,000 people at the fair on Saturday when it was cold and rainy so I don't even dare to think how many were there yesterday. I heard a rumor at one point that they closed the entrances because it was full. How full would the State Fair have to be to be full?
Update: Attendance for Sunday was 210,570. Saturday's attendance was 215,847. That's a lot of people.

Not of my own choosing, I spent the entire day at the fair yesterday. I left my house at 8 a.m. and it was about 7:30 when I returned. These are my cranky ass comments.

  1. We ran into traffic about 45 minutes away from home. Bad traffic. Cars that drive very fast and weave in and out of lanes. They could lose a tire, you know.
  2. We paid $15 to park the car, which at the time seemed like a good idea, and truly, was not a bad idea. Parking and driving in the State Fair area is a nightmare and the sooner you can abandon your vehicle, the better.
  3. We moved in a river of humanity (and giant strollers) onto the fairgrounds, past people hawking water and pop and souvenirs and cheese curds. It was like walking into battle.
  4. I saw more tattoos in one day than I've seen in a long time. Sometimes all on the same person...or family.
  5. I saw two people carrying six-foot Rastafarian Bananas. I'm sure they will get them home and wonder what the hell they were thinking. You can put Rastafarian Banana in google and find a picture of it it you're interested.
  6. I want to know what people do with all that free crap they collect and cart around all day. I saw a woman with four plastic five gallon pails from Home Depot that they must been giving away somewhere. Why would you drag four pails around the fair strapped to the back of your stroller? The mind boggles.
  7. I sat under a tent most of the day and talked to people who went past. I ventured out from time to time for the facilities and once for lunch, but otherwise, it was shady and protected so I stayed there.
  8. Lunch. I braved the throngs and went in search of food. I have read that there is some good food at the fair but I wasn't of a mind to seek it out among the hordes. I went into the first place that looked promising and bought a crab cake and a beer. The beer was good but very expensive and the crab cake was mediocre. I didn't have to wait in a long line.
  9. There was a knifing somewhere just after we left. Did you know the State Fair has its own police force?
  10. I wanted to eat one cookie but the only sell them by the bucketful. I thought about chasing someone down and offering to buy one for a dollar. I suppose it's more economical for them to sell five pounds of cookies in one swoop.
And, in the interest of fairness, these are the happy thoughts from the day.
  1. I rode up with two very nice people, Kemmie and Joanne, who will soon be our neighbors.
  2. I sat in a tent all day and talked to people about River Rock. Most of them were very nice.
  3. I shared my space with Kerry, a young woman who is a graphic designer. We took turns leaving our stuff and going out to forage.
  4. It was not unbearably hot and there was a good breeze. I was in the shade and I had a chair.
  5. The bathroom facilities were more than adequate and fairly clean, considering the numbers of people they serve.
  6. The Minnesota Cooks event was very interesting and I learned some things about grass-fed vs. corn-fed beef from the rancher at Thousand Hills Cattle Company.
  7. Senator Al Franken was one of the celebrity tasters when River Rock's chefs were on the stage. He loved the basil lemonade!
I've tried to make this list as long as the other one but I just can't do it. I'd say all in all, it was not a bad day, just long. I'm a person who doesn't like travel, traffic, crowds, and loud noise but I survived...mind and body in tact. Here's to the Great Minnesota Get-Together.

This is my lunch. Summit EPA and crab cakes. It's also where I spent most of the day.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

movin' through the week at a fast clip

Here I sit. Staring into space and drinking coffee. Wondering where the week went even though it's only Thursday. Sometimes I get the sense that I'm standing still and everything is whizzing past, like the opening scene of Star Wars.

My friend, Joanne, has gone back to a to-do list because she says she'll forget what she needs to do if she doesn't have one. I say that's not a bad thing. I make a list from week to week but it's usually only a list of places I have to be. Not things I have to do. I am seriously bad at accomplishing things.

Yesterday I got the urge to purge and filled two boxes and a big plastic tub with stuff. Clothes I don't wear, half bottles of lotion and perfume, canning jars I bought and never used because the inspiration for them had dissipated before I unwrapped the box. Probably before I got them home from the store. If I had more boxes and more time, I could have done some serious damage yesterday to the stockpile of stuff in my house.

Alas, it was not to be. Now I have to wait for that aura to hit me again.

Regis and I made a visit to the orthopedic surgeon and went out for lunch to celebrate the decision to have his other knee replaced. They did an x-ray and the left one is as bad, if not worse, than the right one was. He won't know what it feels like to navigate without knee pain.

His doctor is negotiating with the local hospital to do knee replacements here. It would make it a less complicated business for us as the hospital about a mile away. If anyone reading this has ever landed in the local hospital, let me know about the food. Regis does not have much interest in food after surgery but I always like to check out the cafeteria and this hospital doesn't seem to have one. There was mention on their website, of vending machines. Uff da, as Elliot says.

We picked Elliot up at daycare about 3 o'clock and he came over for the evening. He was getting tired and cranky about 6 so we walked down to the Dairy Queen. He kept up a running commentary on street signs, rules for walking, naughty kids at daycare, his favorite ice cream flavor, and his Thomas the Tank Engine backpack. We had a lovely time.

I was oddly (or maybe not) fascinated by the story of Prince Harry appearing in nude photos on the internet. If you haven't read about it, he apparently went on a holiday to Vegas and too bad, but what happened in Vegas didn't stay there. Someone at the after hours party in his room had a camera and snapped a couple photos of His Highness as they say, butt naked. Nothing but the TMZ star to hide his private parts, although they are not all that private anymore. It's interesting to imagine the conversation between Harry and Grandma. I bet there were some raised eyebrows and some stern looks cast his way. Ah, well. The rich folk get it like the rest of us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

dreams...or lack thereof

I checked my blog stats this morning and I see that my post the party what started out as jumpin' around, which was the name of my dream book, has been read by 450 people. I've read that post a few times since I stopped counting my own visits to the blog but still that's a lot of people. Too bad I've never figured how to make money off this little venture. Maybe it would pay my medical costs in my dotage.

Put dream into the search box on the top of my blog and see what kind of bizarre stuff you get. We have active dream lives...probably more active than our real lives. As I have said before, Regis is the champ of strange and detailed dreams. If he had been writing his dreams down all these years, we could be writing a book. A very weird and disjointed book but I think there's a market for that, too.

I think it's going to be a tough season politically in the social media. I have tried to avoid that stuff but sometimes I just can't help it and I know other people can't help it either. But, it's disconcerting when a person you like and admire, admits to loving Glen Beck. This is information I would rather not have. Once I learned that a member of my family admitted to getting all of his political information from Rush Limbaugh. Whoa, Nelly. That is some scary shit right there and frankly, it changes how a guy feels about the person who said it.

Saturday while I was riding my bike around town, I listened to a podcast called The Body's Grace: The Matthew Sanford Story. Matthew has been paralyzed since the age of 13 and now teaches yoga in Minneapolis. It was a fascination story so I ordered his book, Waking. In Waking, he tells a powerful and compelling story of healing from the accident that killed his father and sister and healing from his paralysis. The outcome his medical team sought for him is not the one he chose.

So far, today is starting out just fine. A slow waking, a cup of coffee, a visit to the yard with Gus, and some blog musing. Octover 1st is the 6th birthday of my blog so a retrospective will probably be in order. This blog started out as a way to document our attempt to walk 500 miles in a year, hence the name Buns of Stone. We made it about a month with the walking but I carried on with the writing for 1695 posts. Not all of them funny, or even interesting, but there you go.

Have a grand day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

weekend hijinks

We had a grand weekend that included almost all of our favorite things: patio time, a fire in the chimnea, homemade ribs from Alton Brown's recipe, a drink with friends, a sleepover with Ella, and some laziness. You can't beat that with a to-do list! I've grown fonder of slothfulness lately and I think it's a good thing.

Ella and I attended the Govenaires' Drum Corps Expo on Saturday night. I was a little worried about her attention span but it was not a huge investment of money or distance so I thought we could leave early if her interest waned. She loved it, though. The flags, dancing, colorful costumes, and good music kept her eyes wide.

A couple of the corps used gongs. She looked at me in wonder and said, "Only emperors have gongs! I know that because I saw Kung Fu Panda!" I think more than a few people chuckled.

One of Ella's favorite activities at our house is to dress up fancy and have Poppop take pictures. She brings a few dresses with her and likes to wear hats. She usually picks out my outfit, too. Of course, Gus wanted to be in the pictures.

We went to the dog park on Sunday for a while. Regis and Gus are both glad to have a dog park in St. Peter so they don't have to make the daily trip to Mankato.

Back to work. It's Monday so the slothfulness must come to some sort of end.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

what the...

I can't figure out what I meant by the subject line of that last post. I tried a couple times to edit it to make sense, but it just doesn't. It must have a 4 a.m. post.

I have been working on my list of books to read and I continue to run across titles that I remember reading, but I don't remember details. Should I read them again, or just make note and move on? I have been attracted to historical fiction, a genre I haven't read much since I was a teenager. I just finished the two books by Hillary Mantel about Henry the VIII...probably what revived my interest.

I also read the Will Thomas series that started with Some Danger Involved. Mystery: Another genre from my past. Here's the list of books I've liked in the past year...

  • The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
  • The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
  • Let's Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed
  • Life Itself by Roger Ebert
  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • Returning to Earth by Jim Harrison
  • The Long Road Home by Jim Harrison
  • True North by Jim Harrison
  • In One Person by John Irving
  • Great House by Nichole Krauss
  • Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen
  • Stone Arabia by Dana Spiotta
  • The Winter Palace by Eva Stachniak
  • Some Danger Involved by Will Thomas
  • To Kingdom Come by Will Thomas
  • The Limehouse Text by Will Thomas
  • Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
  • The Financial Lives of Poets by Jess Walter
  • Before I Go to Sleep by SJ Watson
  • Wolf Hall by Hillary Mantel
  • Bring Up the Bodies by Hillary Mantel
I thought about adding comments or scores but I liked them all for different reasons.

I love a Saturday with no formal plans. I have a very loose plan to take a ride on my bike at 9 and to stop at the farmer's market and River Rock. Really depends on how things go. I did my weekend tidying up last night so that's done.

I'm trying hard to not be driven insane by all the political BS that's out there. I had to unsubscribe from a couple of Facebook news feeds even though I liked their message. They just got me too stirred up and that's not good. You might as well eat a Big Mac a day as listen to that stuff. I don't watch the news and I rarely read political news in the paper. I like an unbalanced view, or a view from my own perspective, which may make me narrow minded but I don't care. Some of that crap just doesn't fit with my world view.

I had blood work done at my last medical appointment. I received a letter from the doc yesterday with the news about my cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglycerides. All were well within acceptable limits and she congratulated me on my work keeping my cholesterol down. I don't do anything to make that happen and I give all the credit to my good gene pool, Mom. And thanks, too, for the taste for butter, cream, bacon, and red meat!

Regis and I watched a roast of Roseanne the other night on Comedy Central. I thought it was mostly gross and mean and not so funny. Last night, we watched a Dean Martin roast of George Burns from 1978. The set was more subtle as was the humor. Even though I think every person there that night is now dead, it was much funnier than the more recent roast. I suppose this means that I am losing touch,

One comforting thing about watching all the aging movie stars is that you realize, as Warren Zevon says, that the rich folks get it like the rest of us. They get addictions and wrinkles and bald and ugly. And to invoke another favorite singer, people my age are starting to look gross.

I've been staring at this for an hour...over a cup of coffee, then an egg on toast, and now over my plate. Time to move on, I guess.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

when tuesday feels like it lasts all day and it's only morning

I've been awake since 4 a.m.

I read my book for a while, Bring Up the Bodies, but frankly it's depressing. It's about Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII and except for the beheadings and the burnings at the stake, it's about the same as today. Rich people want to keep their money and they don't care much about poor people. Fifteen hundred years and our values still suck.

I can't get going today. I have been sitting here for hours reading old blog posts. I went way back to the beginning, October 2006...then skipped to 2008. It's very entertaining because not only was I funnier then but I was able to read about books I enjoyed but had forgotten. No apologies for my trip down memory lane.

Regis took Gus to the opening of the dog park in St. Peter. For months, they have been making the almost daily trip to Mankato's dog park so this has been eagerly awaited. So eagerly awaited that sometimes Philly Dad came out.

It's Julia Child's 100th birthday today...or I guess it's more like the anniversary of her birth since she is no longer living. She was a hoot. Here's a great little video of clips of her, remixed.

Ok, I'm going to step away from the electronic cocaine and do something constructive. At least I mean to do that. If I write another blog post before noon, send someone to konk me on the head.

when tuesday feels like friday

We were out yesterday.Out of sorts. Out of patience. Out of energy. Out of whack. We both felt like we had one nerve left all day. And it seemed like there was always someone ready to jump on it.

About 4:30, we headed down to vote in the primary election and there was a FOX news truck in the parking lot. There was a big voter turn-out so it was about the only other vehicle in the lot. Regis is not a big fan of FOX so I was a little nervous that he would have some choice words like must be a slow news day or something. We got through unscathed, however.

We stopped by Patrick's and had a beer on our way home and sat in our usual booth under the tree. There was a fellow in the next booth with, seriously, the most irritating laugh ever. It was like a donkey only louder and he thought everything was funny. We stood it for about twenty minutes then we had to move. The server said, "What's up with that guy?" so we knew it wasn't only our out of whack moods.

Like so many things in life, it was right out of a Seinfeld episode.

The city was seal coating our neighborhood streets yesterday so we were trapped a couple times for short periods. Regis and Young Regis went to Men-R-Nerds to buy gutter caps and had to hang around the coffee shop drinking latte and eating cookies for a half hour because they couldn't get down our street. That was torture, right?

I rode my bike around town doing errands and going to the Pulse and didn't have trouble except that Third Street felt like a parade route. Big dump trucks and sweepers and men standing around with stop signs and shovels. I waved and called greetings. I'm sure they thought I was odd.

A friend of mine, a recently retired school teacher, told me yesterday he was thinking of renewing his license "just in case". This would mean attending the pre-school workshops which were one of the reasons I was eager to be done. Sitting through that for 36 years is almost more than a guy should have to endure.

I told him to forget it but Regis urged him to do it...just in case. What??? My license expired in July and I don't recall him encouraging me along those lines although he claims he did and I just laughed. Yeah, I might have done that.

I don't believe in "just in case" anyway. If that's your life philosophy, you might as well just start worrying yourself to death the day you're born. What the hell. Things will work out and in my case, most likely they will work out without a teaching license.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

tripping down memory lane

I'm not sure I like this trend in the social media to publish pictures of things from my youth as if they were artifacts from Tut's tomb. As I get older, I have more trouble with my memory, even about recent things, like what I had for lunch, and I don't need the distant past and the current stuff mixed up like this. I don't feel like joining 500,000 people in saying, "I remember that!" Even if I do.

Maybe nursing homes are using this data to identify their next demographic growth area. Click like on the Cartwrights and suddenly you're getting the AARP magazine, ads for Depends, and a brochure from the neighborhood assisted living facility.

This one, I like. I loved comic books when I was a kid and when I was an English major, I always defended the reading of comic books. I don't know why they were considered substandard reading material. We would sit out under a tree with a big box of comics, take turns reading the favorites, trade with neighbor kids who wandered by with their own stash, and encourage each other in the reading of one that was particularly good.

So, maybe I'll go to the assisted living facility some day if they have comic books.

Peter came for dinner last night and while we didn't get pictures, the food was wonderful. I made a roasted corn relish that had a real kick to it. Made a big bowl of canteloupe and strawberries. Made a nice salad with greens and carrots from the CSA. Grilled steak and brats. Can't eat better than that.

I dug out a recipe for moussaka this morning. I have ended up with more eggplant than I really care to eat and that's one recipe I like. Eggplant, zucchini, and their ilk, all have that texture that is reminiscent of a sponge and not a very tasty one at that. I don't have an aversion...I just don't crave them.

Regis and Young Regis are going to do a man project today...putting gutter caps on our gutters. We have so many big trees in our neighborhood that the gutters on our one-story house are collection points for leaves, sticks, and tennis balls. I just hope this project does not involve spray foam.

That's a story for another day.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

forgot the appetizer

Cherry tomato cut in half, basil leaf, fresh mozzarella, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. So good. 
Thanks for the tip, Deb!

saturday in pictures and links

Yesterday, I took my bike for a long ride, over to Dodd Road, up by the hospital, around the campus of Gustavus, and downtown to the farmer's market. This is my bike with basket full of sweet corn, melon, peppers, and cherry tomatoes.

Next stop was River Rock where Helena made me this beautiful latte and I had a fresh-from-the-oven pastry with blueberry mint jam. It was so good.

I bought two more to take home. Seriously delicious and just the right size, about two inches square. Also bought a loaf of Cranberry Walnut Buckwheat Bread. If I had been stranded somewhere along the way home, I would have been well-fed for a long time.

It was a beautiful day for a bike ride...long pants and light sweater against the cool breeze. If it hadn't been for the bastards going right through stop signs, it would have been a very pleasant morning. I don't hesitate to shout at people who do that. Do they think nobody sees them? Hey pal, I'm right here and I see the stop sign you just skated. This wasn't a slow stop, this was a drive right through a four-way stop. Maybe where he's from, the road signs are only suggestions of things you could do..

Our friend, Emily, worked for a time in the 1980s for the Great American Circus as a publicist. Last time she was here, she told about driving ahead of the circus to promote it with local media. Her job also entailed shepherding Tiny Tim around. Here's an article that talks about Tim's circus job.

Last night when she came to dinner, Emily brought the a copy of a People magazine from the 80s. We laughed about how she kept it in an archival quality Ziploc bag. Ha!

This is a photo of Emily and Tiny Tim from a People magazine during the time they both worked for the circus. They were at a gala at Studio 54 in New York City. You can't see it in the photo but Tiny Tim has on a gold cape Emily found for him in a theatrical costume shop. She said he loved it.

And this is what we had for dinner: Pork chops from Schmidt's Meat Market, steaks, sweet corn, melon and strawberries, green salad with carrots and tomatoes, and Buckwheat Bread. Perfect summer meal.

Here we are, glass of wine in hand, prepared to eat, telling stories.

There you go. That's Saturday in my world. I don't think today will be quite as much fun as I see laundry, dishes, and work in my future!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

county fair and cheese curds

We made our way to the county fair last night. It was demo derby night so the crowd was huge and there were lots of interesting things for the kids to see: horse mounted police, games of chance, food galore, animals, and the glorious midway. 

They had the good sense to not be too interested in what they called the scary rides, but Alex and Elliot, to our surprise, decided they wanted to try the giant slide. I love these pictures because the kids look terrified but they said they had fun. Looks like Bob and Tiff had fun!

Everybody had at least one junky thing to eat. I had the world's worst cheeseburger. Not quite so bad that I would resort to this signage, but it was bad. Let's see...I saw cotton candy, milk shakes, hot dogs, beer, lemonade, nachos, and corn dogs. I'd say we had a good sampling.

About the time the demo derby started, we decided to head for home. We were sated, the night was getting cool, and we were tired of crowds. It was a good time.

Peter looking pensive and he's no doubt thinking about the nine dollar cheese curds...which were not sampled. We did find cheese curds on the black market but by then everyone was full of fair food. So far, this summer, I have been to two fairs where my kids said they HAD TO HAVE CHEESE CURDS. Then they refuse to pay the price for them. Haha!

Regis, Peter, and I had a cold can of beer in what we call the beer garden but it's really a beer pole shed. It's open to the elements which is nice but that also means everything is covered with a nice sheen of black dirt. Ah, well. It's the county fair. Don't attend if you expect clean. (Although, they did have some of the nicest bathrooms I have seen in a while.)

I'm thinking about a long bike ride this morning and then a stop at River Rock for one of Amber's lattes. Good way to start a Saturday, don't you think?

Friday, August 10, 2012

sleeping during the county fair

We live about two blocks from the county fair grounds. During the five days the fair is in session, we have a bounty of noise. There's someone on a microphone, not sure what he says as it isn't that clear, but it's constant. Every night there's something...a lawn tractor pull, a big tractor pull, a demo derby, horse and buggy races, a talent show.

The noise abates about 10 o'clock and it isn't overwhelming. We like leaving the bedroom window open so we can hear the happy sounds.

Tonight, most of our kids are coming and we're going to make our annual pilgrimage to the fair. Since Regis had knee surgery only a month ago, we'll drive as far as we can get (Reggie's house right outside the gate) and hobble down to the beer garden. From there, we can make forays out to the corn dog stand or the funnel cake trailer.

We could be there two hours at the most. The little kids might do some rides, we like to walk through the exhibit building to test our powers of eye contact aversion. They try to book you for a Mary Kay party or to sign up for a vacuum cleaner demonstration. No thanks.

Remember this year: No matter how tempted you are, DO NOT PET THE PIGS!

Here's a picture from the archives of Emily and Ella at the end of the 2006 county fair trip. It was Ella's first.

I made the Summer Garden Gratin yesterday but I made the mistake of not reading the recipe over first and I screwed several things up. I layered it wrong...tomatoes should be on the top or enough of the juice doesn't cook off. I put the Panko crumbs on right away instead of waiting until the end. And I forgot to drizzle the thyme oil over the zucchini. Dang.

I finished Wolf Hall this morning when I woke at 4 o'clock. I really liked it although to say you liked a book about the middle ages is saying something. There were a few be-headings, some burnings at the stake, and lots of dangerous intrigue. I had a little trouble keeping all the Marys, Richards, and Thomases straight. There were a ton of characters and most were named...Mary, Richard, or Thomas. Not much imagination in those days, I guess.

I'm doing very well on my plan for improved health. My sleep is better, I'm exercising more, and all in all, things are looking great. 

Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

favorite summer salad recipe

I made this blueberry and corn salad a month or so ago and I love it. It's from the blog Two Peas and Their Pod so they get complete credit. The only thing I changed was to cut the cucumber into smaller chunks instead of slices. This salad holds up well in the refrigerator...nothing to wilt or get soggy. The flavors get better after a day or two. It calls for roasted corn but I just used frozen corn because it wasn't corn season yet!

Blueberry Corn Salad
Yield: Serves 6-8
Simple summer salad with blueberries, sweet corn, cucumbers, cilantro, jalapeño, red onion, and a honey lime dressing.

6 ears fresh sweet corn, husked
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cucumber, sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice (use matters!)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1. In a large pot, bring water to boiling. Add corn. Cook for 5 minutes, or until tender. When cool enough to handle, cut corn from the cobs. Discard cobs.

2. In a large serving bowl, combine corn, blueberries, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno. To make the dressing, whisk together lime juice, oil, honey, cumin, salt, and pepper. Pour dressing over salad and stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Note-you can make this salad a day in advance. It keeps well.

Here's a picture of my version.

visiting mom

I made an uncharacteristically spontaneous trip to Canby this week. Cousin Deb from Arizona was driving out to Canby from Minneapolis and wanted me to come along. I can always think of reasons why I can't do it, but the truth is that I am not good at surprises and need some time to think about it.

As it turned out, Deb motored down here from Minneapolis to fetch me. We had a wonderful road trip through many small towns in southern MN, having lunch in Wabasso, and having fun with Mom.

Deb and I covered a lot of conversational ground in the car...probably things we had talked about in the past but forgotten. Old boyfriends, old apartments, old friends, parties from the distant past...hey, there's a pattern here!

Mom hates to have her picture taken so I apologize in advance for posting these. She thinks she looks old but I hope I look so good and have as much fun as she does when I'm 82. What the hell, right?

Deb and Shirley

Teresa and Shirley

The Big Wabasso Bunny and Teresa

Deb and I managed, with no mechanical skill but a lot of persistence, to fix Mom's keyless garage door entry pad. We jumped around like we'd won a gold medal when the damn thing finally went up. Ta da!

We intended to go out to eat but we had a glass of afternoon wine and eventually decided to just get a pizza and stay home talking smart which was just as much fun and maybe more fun.

The Nicollet County Fair started yesterday so we went to sleep with the window open because it was cool and were lulled to sleep by the sounds of the lawn tractor pull. Not nearly as loud as the official tractor pull which happens tonight. Windows may be closed for that event.

Back to work today.

Monday, August 06, 2012

human dynamo

You know all those things on my list yesterday? I got them all done except for the lawn mowing, plus a few things I hadn't planned to do but did. Of course, I put them on the list just so I could cross them off.

Probably my best feat of the day was cleaning out the back porch. I've been looking at that crap for months and seemed (?) unable to do anything about it. Suddenly, it seemed like the thing to do.

Our back porch AKA a three-season room is almost unusable. It's too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter. The only times it is pleasant is about three warm days in the spring and three cool days in the fall. So, being a room that is only passed through to go outside, it tends to collect stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else...vacuum cleaner, tubs full of Gus's tennis balls, the blow-up bed, coolers, boxes of books, extra dog food. Ugh.

I threw a lot of stuff in the garbage, carried a few things to the basement (the other bane of my existence) but managed to clean out four baskets and two tubs.

One thing I have learned about myself is to be very cautious about buying tools of organization like plastic tubs and baskets. They're just a huge invitation to accumulate more junk.

Well, for now, I'm on a mission.

Not quite the Mars Rover mission, but a mission just the same.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

sunday can be such a nice surprise

All day yesterday, I thought it was Sunday so to wake up today and realize I still had one more day to the weekend was a nice surprise. We had the window open all night,too, which was another pleasant surprise. It's been a hot summer so those nights have been rare.

I have a lot of things on my list today.

  • Mow the lawn
  • Finish my grocery list and menu for the week
  • Pay bills
  • Clean out the refrigerator
  • Laundry
  • Finish Gus letter
  • Send two birthday cards
  • Tidy up the house for the week
So far, I'm sitting with a cup of coffee, contemplating the list.

I met Tiffany and Eric in Mankato yesterday about 11. They were taking Evelyn in to do the Wow Zone thing and they thought a three-year old might be a bit of a hindrance, so Peter and I scooped him up and went to do some other things. We stopped at Pet Expo to look at the pets (hairless rats?) and to buy Gus some chew toys. We went to Grizzlies for lunch and to Hobby Lobby to get a few things. We stopped at Target to buy a small toy and some socks for me. That was it.

We went back to the Wow Zone and went in to meet them. That is definitely not a place I would spend any time. Way too stimulating. Too many televisions. Bowling. Laser tag. Arcade games. Mini golf. Sports bar. Check, check, and check.

When I was a teenager, we used to go to a cafe in town after confirmation on Saturday morning. The cafe had one pinball machine and we took turns dropping in a quarter to play. It had metal paddles and metal balls and it made a soft ping ping ping noise as the ball went around. Ah, memories. I always tell my kids that Pong was the first video game I ever played. Probably the only one.

Regis and I were in Best Buy (a store I loathe) one time and to pass the time, I sat down to play a demo video game. I was pushing buttons like crazy and watching the screen when a young fellow came over and actually said this to me: Ma'am, you have to turn it on before you play. Chagrin.

Regis is giving me reports on the Olympic women's marathon from his iPad. The leaders have been doing a little over five minutes a mile for 20 miles. Holy crap. I couldn't do a five minute mile for a mile.

He is ranting about the streaming coverage of the marathon. This is the future, he says. Not exactly Radiohead, but the future. 

My stuff's not getting done with me sitting here, now is it?

Saturday, August 04, 2012

ah, yes...the sleeping part of the day

I have had trouble sleeping for twenty years. I was always able to fall asleep easily but I would wake up about four hours later and be unable go back to sleep until about 5 at which point it's almost time to wake up. It's a bitch.

It's gotten worse in the last year because I seem to have lost my champion napper status and also have some trouble getting to sleep at night.

Champion Napper

I have a new plan that includes more exercise, new age music instead of reading on the Kindle when I wake up in the middle of the night, and waking up early. Since I retired, I have been under the illusion that I should sleep until 7 o'clock. I don't think that's going to happen.

I've been writing lots of plans lately. Must be a hangover from my special ed teacher days. IEPs, you know.

So, here I am at 5 a.m. I slept well, managed to get back to sleep once or twice with the music and I feel pretty good. Ta da!

I went to yoga yesterday at 5:30. I had forgotten how bloody hard yoga is. For an exercise that looks so gentle, it can kick a guy's ass seriously. It's the forward fold, one-legged down dog, one legged plank, crocodile, and up dog that kills me. Oh, yeah...and tree pose. I had to take a break in the middle or I was going to pass out or die. It's like the high hurdles in the Olympics; not as easy as it looks.

I don't know if I have discussed my idea here before but here it is again. I think the Olympic committee ought to consider having an ordinary person performing all the feats of prowess alongside the super athletes. It would give perspective. If I were performing, say, the long jump, you would realize quickly that the other guy has been practicing. I think it's worth considering.

I checked the weather channel when I woke up. Seems like we got about an inch of rain during the night and the high today will be 78 degrees. Nice after yesterday. I wonder why the weather channel website needs a social tab. I didn't go there...just in case. There is way more information there than I need. I am relieved to know, however, that the chance of snow for today is 0%.

I bathed Gus yesterday which is almost the same as getting a bath yourself. He is very good and jumps right in the tub when you tell him to and he stands very still but he's a big dog. Regis wrote the sweetest letter to the family who raised Gus yesterday, thanking them for our wonderful pet. Gus is a good dog and he has the best disposition of any dog I have known. See Blasts from the Past in the right column. Several are Bert-related. Bert was the source of much good writing material even if he was an ornery little cuss.

My coffee cup is empty so I think I will wander back to the kitchen and make a fresh pot. Happy Saturday.

Friday, August 03, 2012

hoping my cranky phase has passed

I have been seeing my doctor for my cranky symptoms. I have a plan for better health now that includes yoga, more exercise, healthy eating, being outside, and a new hobby or two.

I did a google search for "grumpy" in images and this is the first picture that popped up. The funny thing is that it's a picture of me as a toddler. How did that happen? If you put grumpy in google, does my picture come up first?

I used this machine at the gym this morning. It's not as daunting as it appears but you do feel like you might just move out the door and down the street. Who invents these things?

As I was commiserating and trying to make it to ten minutes, I saw the South African fellow in the Olympics who runs on two prosthetic legs. He's running in the 400 it called a dash? It sort of took the wind out of my complainy sales!

I went shopping for shoes yesterday. I admit I have been a bit of a boot whore the past few years but I have had trouble buying shoes. They were either too flat or too high or too old-lady looking or too skanky looking. I admired Bonnie's shoes at work and when she told me where she got them, I high-tailed it right over there.

I found two pair, a black and a brown. The clerk told me that the designer of the brown shoe was the person who won some reality runway show. Huh? This was not the kind of place you expect to find designer shoes, believe me.

I have an Instagram account which is a phone app that takes photos. Actually, I have for work and one for personal photos. I read (somewhere) that the supreme leader of Iran has an Instagram account and has published a few quite nice photos of himself. As he can be quite a character, I thought this was sweet. I never write bad things even about despots because you never know when they will google themselves and come looking for you. You can check out the photos of him here.

I went to the giant hobby store in Mankato yesterday, intending to buy yard to make a scarf. I thought they had simple patterns but I couldn't find one so did the cheap thing and bought some pretty yarn on sale and decided to use the needles I have already. I bought four skeins so it will probably be enough scarves for a dozen people. Maybe I'll check out Pinterest, the source for electronic hoarders.

We're going to Schmidt's this afternoon so we have a meat supply for the weekend. We especially need bacon and a good steak. On to the weekend...