Cleaning for Nonny

Today’s post comes from Sherrilee.

Nonny is coming on Monday. Those of you who know me, know that I have “a list”. And it’s a long list; I did it on the computer, complete with pictures of Nonny across the top, three columns and a multi-colored font (fall colors, since those are Nonny’s favorites). It’s gone onto a second page at this point.

Of course my list has a title… “Cleaning for Nonny”, since much of the list has to do with cleaning. Nonny says she doesn’t care if my house is clean or not and I believe her; my sister has a house that could make the cut for one of those hoarding shows and Nonny still goes over there. But I let things go during the winter due to how busy I am at work and then I kept letting things go as we got to spring and summer, since my energies tend to go to the yard. I just can’t stand to have her see it quite this messy.

I started to rename my list a couple of times because for some reason “Cleaning for Nonny” keeps reminding me of Bowling for Columbine; ultimately I left the title be. I haven’t even printed this list since it is quite long, but I am highlighting the finished items each night before I go to bed. I don’t really need to worry that I’ve named my list, right? Nobody on the planet even knows that I have a list, or that I’ve named the list – except you guys. You won’t tell will you?

Do you make lists? Do you give them titles?

Raspberries Take Over the World

Today’s guest post comes from Edith.

A few years ago, VS had a guest blog post  on her wildly successful straw bale garden. I was inspired by that to try my hand at growing a few vegetables in straw bales this summer.

I have tried growing vegetables before, but have been defeated by monster weeds and various city woes. The book about straw bale gardening that I read assured me that all my previous problems would be nonexistent with straw bale gardening and I would be overwhelmed with a huge vegetable harvest.

In one respect the book was correct. All my previous problems were nonexistent but I ended up with some different problems instead. I had chosen what I thought was a good spot for the bales: a wide strip of land bordered by a fence on one side and the raspberry patch on the other side. From my experience with raspberries, I was pretty sure that the canes would not spread as far as the straw bales until next year and that this was a good way to use what would otherwise be a weed patch, not only keeping the weeds down until the raspberries took over that spot next year, but also providing me with homegrown veggies. I followed the directions for prepping the bales and everything looked like it would work just like the book said it would. I planted some seeds and a few plants and started waiting for the harvest.

Well, the raspberries took one look at the straw bales and declared war. While they don’t seem to have moved much at all in the other direction, they have grown up right next to the straw bales, and hard rains have beaten them down until they are falling down every which way. The straw bales, aided by the heavy rains, took one look at the raspberries and literally fell apart. The seeds I planted did not germinate very well and the plants are growing sideways because what was the top of the bale is now the side. Lovely. I think I’ll just stick to berries and herbs next year.
When have your grandiose plans crashed down around you?


Today’s guest post comes from Sherrilee

As some of you may know I am a straw bale gardener. I got interested in straw bales after I had determined that I really wanted to grow tomatoes on my own every summer – after someone on the Trail recommended the expose Tomatoland by Barry Estabrook.

I’ve had varying results over the last few years but this summer the tomatoes are doing quite well and have taken over the corner of my yard that is dedicated to my bales. I’m harvesting enough that the occasional tomato that I’m losing to the squirrels is not driving me too crazy and I’m starting to think about ways to preserve them since they are coming off the vines faster than we can eat them.

Yesterday I pulled a whooper off the vine – I’m calling it Tomato-zilla. Unfortunately I don’t know what kind of tomato it is because I didn’t write down what kind of plants I planted and the little stakes have all gone missing.

But here are a couple of dishes we’ve made recently. These are Verily Sherrilee creations, not out of a cookbook, using what was on hand!

Tomato Corn Bean Salad

4 ears of corn from the farmer’s market, kernels cut from cobs

1 can of black beans, rinsed

20 cherry tomatoes, cut in half (we actually have Santa tomatoes in our garden, which are shaped like little tears)

Handful of basil, chopped (basil also from our garden)

About ½ tsp cumin

Salt / pepper

  • Mix all the items together.  You can add more cumin (or less) to taste.

Roasted Tomato Pasta

4 large leeks from farmer’s market, chopped

1 large clove of garlic, chopped or minced (depends on how you like it)

Handful of basil, chopped

3-4 T. olive oil

4-5 tomatoes, chopped

Olives, pitted & chopped (this is optional)

Cooked pasta of your choice (I used spaghetti)

Parmesan cheese (also optional)

  • Sauté the leeks, garlic and basil until the oil is absorbed.  Then add tomatoes and let them roast a bit.  Add cooked pasta and stir.  If you’re going w/ olives and parmesan, you can add them at this point or put them on the table and let folks add themselves to their own dish!

Do you have a favorite summer recipe?

recipe for a successful blog

Today’s guest post comes from tim

i remember seeing an article in a business study where they said that as companies were going through growth and trying to solve growth issues and deal with the ways to work best, they always broke down into manageable groups. 15 or 20 people is what they came up with as the right sized group.

more or less is possible but 15 to 20 is optimal.
i thought when i typed in “recipe for a successful blog” that i would get a lot of peoples ideas on how to do it.
it appears many people try to get a big blog with lots of followers to sell stuff or create big numbers for analytic wowsers but no one is doing it to have a group that works like a social entity.
we seem to have created an odd confab here on the trail.
the test came this summer when the idea of if we could create out own little self sustaining model was made part of the recipe equation. clyde in the midst of ailments and pain, has turned out post after post that amaze and impress. we have a cole porter of the blog venue we all visit daily. an o henry of the internet, a picasso of the world wide web. sherrilee has shined, renee is making opera in grand forks an awaited revue, linda and plain jane jom and edith will throw one in. jacque from her hotel room, steve from way the hell over there, cynthia from the past and joanne from near extinction have returned to make us smile. wessew came out of nowhere, the guy in the hat occasionally caroline , lisa are you really retired? bill thanks for explaining clydes punchlines.
(bill we need a guest blog) ben and dale have been known to make a contribution from time to time. mig and bir are all over the place and show us its ok to write guest blogs and ok not to also.
music, food, theatre, art, poetry, animals, family, the 60’s the 70’s the space program, reading suggestions, gardening tips, advice and philosophy,
i guess when i stop to think about it there is no wonder there is not a recipe for a successful blog on the google and safari search lists. its like the right pie crust if its not there you dont bother and if it is you take another bite and another and swish the succulence around in your mouth for a minute to savor the moment and then hit that invisible tick mark to remember that this is the place to come to get pie.
charels kerault retired and then died, charle osgood took over and is getting old and will leave the cbs sunday morning family to another helmsman in the next little while, cbs knows what their show is and it is now apparent that the show will shape the voice as much as the other way around.
we’ve got this damn blog thing down, does anyone have a good pie crust recipe? one for apple and one for quiche please


Today’s guest post comes from Sherrilee.

My daughter is a traditionalist. She wouldn’t admit to this of course, but just ask her what she wants to do on vacation and that will tell the whole story. You’ll end up with the same vacation you took last year. And the year before.


So it didn’t surprise me that when we settled on Colorado as our vacation destination this summer, she wanted the same trip we took 3 years ago. I got the big glossy state tourism booklet in the mail and I asked her more than once what she wanted to do, but I’m not sure she looked at it. Same campground on the way out, same campground in Larkspur (south of Denver) and same activities on her list (Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, Aquarium in Denver and the Wildlife Sanctuary in Keenesburg).

Generally I’m OK with this, but after a rocky start to our trip (bad news from home on our second morning), I was just itching to make the trip a little different. After flipping through some of the pages of our glossy book, I asked Young Adult if she wanted to go rafting. You’d think that most young folks would jump at the chance to do something new and exciting. Nope. I had to talk her into it!

That little hole-in-the-wall post-rafting pizza place

It was a slightly overcast morning, which turned out to be perfect – not too warm. We had wetsuits and helmets and “flotation devices” (they don’t say “life preservers” anymore), lessons in how to lean and lectures on what happens if you end up in the water. We both stayed in the raft, although not all our raft mates were that lucky and didn’t end up too sore from paddling. Then we had lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall pizza place up the street.

Since Young Adult hadn’t been super-enthusiastic prior to the rafting to begin with, I was happy to hear her say that the trip could have been a little longer. Of course this means that now rafting will be part of the tradition and any vacations to Colorado in the future will have to include it!

What do you like to do on vacation?

Upbeat Up North

Today’s guest post comes from Clyde of Mankato.

For our second of two anniversary parties—two is excessive, I know, but you have to go where the crowds are—we drove up to Two Harbors, which proved to be a mostly foggy weekend on The Lake. Strangers we encountered, such as store clerks, made comment or even apologized about the weather. Not one friend said a word. Locals know and accept the beauty of The Lake in all her clothing.

Sandy and I like Superior in her dark and diaphanous gowns. We were in a fine mood ourselves from the party, which the weather only enhanced.

Do you take your mood from the weather?

File Under T for Treasure

Today’s guest post comes from Anna.

My father was a saver of paper and a filer of almost anything that could fit into a manila folder: tax documents, old report cards, receipts for car repairs, meeting minutes for committees that may have disbanded by the time the paper was in a file. I shudder a bit at how much paper I might find when it come times to clean out the house – though the task will be made somewhat easier knowing that each sheet will be in a properly labeled folder and filed alphabetically. Among all of these papers and files, my mother recently found a file that was, I’m sure, labeled “Vacations.” In it there was treasure: handwritten and typed letters from the owners of Castle Creek Camp in South Dakota.


Castle Creek was a former gold mining camp, nestled in the Black Hills outside of Hill City. The “unmodern” cabins (as one letter describes) rented for as little as $7 per day or $40 for the week, linens and dishes included, running water in or nearby the cabins, “modern” shower facilities were separate and there were outhouses for, well, outhousing. At least some of the cabins may well have been original to the place when it was a mining camp and they came with names like “Linger Long” (our cabin of choice) and “Tumble Inn.” The eponymous Castle Creek meandered through the camp and one letter shares that, “panning for gold is a lot of fun and we even find some once in a while” (shoes recommended as there are sharp rocks in the creek).

castlecreek (1)

Our family vacationed at Castle Creek for several summers, going back each year to Linger Long. Along with the creek, where gold might be found, treasure could be had when you heard the whistle of the 1880 Train. Part of the train’s track ran along the far edge of the camp. When the train whistle blew, any kids in camp learned to stop what they were doing and run to the tracks and wait: the man in the caboose kept Tootsie Rolls with him and would throw them out to us by the fistful. A handful of Tootsie Rolls went nicely with an ice cold Orange Crush procured for a nickel from the pop machine that lived by the owner’s house. The machine was one of those red, rounded corner affairs that held a single row of glass bottles behind a tall slim door: open the door, put in your nickel to unlock the options and pull on the neck to free the bright orange, sweet goodness of a Crush.


The other attraction, at least for me, was the resident donkey, Goldie. She had run of the place and roamed more freely than even the owner’s family dog. Goldie would come visit me in the mornings and eat sugar cubes out of my hand while I sat on the porch railing at our cabin. Since I wasn’t quite big enough to keep up with my brother and the owner’s two boys (nor did I have much in common with them – a red, white and blue guitar “just like Buck Owens” was not really a draw for me), Goldie was my friend at Castle Creek; my gentle, big eared companion. I looked forward to seeing her each summer as much as my brother looked forward to adventures with the boys.

Remember that 1880 Train? It did one other thing. It ran into Goldie. The last year we went to Castle Creek we found out that Goldie had been killed, run into by the train, while she was trying to get her foal off the tracks. I befriended the foal as well, but she wasn’t quite Goldie – in it for the sugar, not the companionship. Castle Creek wasn’t quite the same for me without Goldie. The Orange Crush was still cold, the Tootsie Rolls still flew out of the caboose, but I didn’t have Goldie. She was my real treasure at the mining camp. Treasure remembered and rediscovered again with a map provided in a letter saved by my father.

What treasure would you mark with a map?


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