They’re Coming to Take Me Away

I’ve been aware for some time that nothing I do online is really private.  If I look at some clothing website on Tuesday, by Wednesday, I’m getting sidebar ads for that same clothing company.  If I watch a Paws for Hope video on YouTube, suddenly lots of their videos pop to the top of my feed.  Same with Facebook.  Not too irritating although it makes me wonder if cyberspace is smart enough to know what I’m looking at, why isn’t it smart enough to know when I’ve made a purchase so they can stop showing me the ads for what I’ve bought?

I have a “color-by-number” app on my phone – it’s a mindless game that I often play if I have the tv on or am listening to a book on tape.  It only takes up about ¼ of my brain (if that).  It has a function that offers me “hints” if I watch the occasional ad.  Most of the time I ignore that function, but occasionally the puzzles have little bits that are almost impossible to see, so I like to have a couple of hints available.  About a month ago I noticed that the ads on this game were aligning with stuff that I was searching for online using my phone.  Not 100% but close enough.  So now my game is paying attention to what I’m up to when I’m not playing.   I wasn’t sure if I should worry about this or not.

Then yesterday I had the tv on while I was working in my studio.  One of the interminably long Cindy Crawford ads came on – the ones in which they talk about the special melons in the south of France.  I flipped on mute and waited it out.  While I was watching out of the corner of my eye for the commercial to end, I thought to myself “Well, at least they don’t run those Crepe Erase ads anymore.”  I’m not sure why I don’t like these ads, but I don’t even like to say the words “crepe” and “erase” together.  I have nothing against Jane Seymour, their spokeswoman, but I just don’t like the ads.  So imagine my shock when about 20 minutes later, there was Jane Seymour hawking Crepe Erase!  Honestly, I haven’t seen one of these ads for a couple of years at least.  It’s clear they’re reading my mind – this crosses the line!

Do you have a favorite hat?

Duolingo

You all know I love my lists.  Last year when I got furloughed it took me a month to realize that I needed some routine in my days.  It was more challenging than I had expected to fill up approximately 10 hours a day, five times a week, especially since we weren’t supposed to be leaving the house.

I decided to use a daily list and to work on some new habits while I was at it: more fruits/veggies, drink more water, kitchen floor (yes, it REALLY needed serious cleaning), front porch (we’re scrapping old paint off the stucco), creeping Charlie.  The kitchen floor eventually got spectacularly clean, I got better at fruits/veggies and water, creeping Charlie…. well you know how it goes with creeping Charlie.  It was a relaxing part of my day to cross off things that I had accomplished. 

After about a month of furlough, I decide to re-start my work on Italian.  I had started about a year before, using a free app on my phone (Duolingo) but had let it slide after several months.  When I got back online, I started at the beginning even though the app remembered where I had been.  And I decided that I would keep each day’s lesson short; if I set a goal of too many minutes, I knew it might de-rail me. 

Yesterday after the first part of my lesson (I do two lessons a day), I got a blip saying I had hit 365 straight days… an entire year of working on my Italian every day.  I even did my lessons when YA and I went to San Diego in August – the app is on my phone, so easy peasy.   Of all the things on my various lists over the last year, this is the only thing that I have consistently done every single day.  It’s an amazing feat, even to me.  Of course, at ten minutes a day, I’m not blazing any linguistic trails, but if you want to know about elephants drinking water, I’m your gal (Gli elefanti bevono l’acqua)!

Do you have a routine you’re consistent with?  That’s you’d LIKE to be consistent with?

Gardens Galore!

(Sorry picture is fuzzy – I don’t have the original….)

In the past ten days our yard has gone from the scourge of the neighborhood to the envy of everyone.  I don’t chop too much down in the fall on the theory that the old stalks and leaves hold onto water and protect the spring buds.  (I don’t know if this is actually true, but I cling to it… especially since I have trouble getting motivated for autumn gardening.)  YA and I have gotten everything cleaned up, spread about a ton of mulch (well, it feels that way, anyway) and turned our eyesore into a lovely garden.  The fact that the daffodils and tulips are in bloom on the boulevard doesn’t hurt!

As we’ve been working, I been looking at some of the plants that I’ve been lucky to receive from baboons on the trail.  Lovely hostas in the backyard from PJ, raspberry canes from Linda, a massive hosta display on the front boulevard from our tim and, of course, my lovely Prairie Smoke from LJB.  It’s made me think that although our baboon troop was initially brought together by music, we’ve also bonded over gardening.  Helping out PJ with her garden after the accident, the great chainsaw gathering at Steve’s, filling in Anna’s spot with various plants, Ben bringing us bales and poo, Jim providing seeds and loads of gardening talk over the years. 

As always, I’m grateful for all the fabulous friendship over music, books and gardening!

Any gardening projects in store for you? 

Open & Shut

Shouldn’t be a surprise to me that after a year plus of pandemic, businesses are feeling it.  As I drive about my neighborhood, I see that a few businesses have bitten the dust:  FedEx Kinko’s and Wax City at the Hub are gone as well as Old Country Buffet and my dog-training place, Canine College.

But it’s heartening to see that new folks are still willing to try starting up business in their places.  This morning I see that the Old Country Buffet is becoming a “Million’s Crab” – looks like the first one in the Twin Cities.  And Wax City is being replaced by “The Archery Cosmetic Tattoo”.  I was a little excited about the tattoo place until I realized it’s all about eyebrows and other cosmetic stuff – no skulls or motorcycle gang graphics!  I can’t wait to see what’s going into the FedEx storefront.  The dog-training place is still sitting empty; I can’t imagine what kind of restoration the owner would have to do to that building to make it palatable to anybody else.  I have a small (probably irrational) hope that maybe Canine College might be able to come back.

This is just in my small corner of the world but I’m assuming it’s same elsewhere.  I’m torn; it’s sad that businesses have failed but I’m glad there is enough hope out there that new businesses are opening.  Now if I could just get a bagel shop to open up within walking distance of my house!

Anything business that you valued gone under?  Anything new opening up near you?  What would you LIKE to open up near you?

Goodbye, Big REd

My most delightful coworker told me a very funny story the other day about the demise of her beloved red Honda van. It must date from 2000 or so, and has a gazillion miles on it. She has kept it going far longer than the mechanics or her husband thinks she should have. For a while , she could only get it into gear by sticking a screwdriver in the top of the steering wheel. She just had new tires on it and planned to keep driving it, when she started to have trouble with the horn.

My friend told me that she was on her way to a home visit for a client when she parked in front of the house, turned off the engine, and opened the door. The horn started honking and wouldn’t stop. She phoned her husband in a panic. He told her to drive the car a couple of blocks and see what would happen, She did, and the honking stopped until she again turned off the engine and opened the door. She tried starting, driving, parking, and stopping four more times. By the final attempt the honking wouldn’t stop at all, and she drove across town with her horn honking until she got home and her husband disconnected some cable. She said she was so embarrassed driving like that, as other drivers were pulling over and letting her pass as she drove by. Many waved at her in recognition, and others started following her to see where the big emergency was. She said “I always wanted people in town to know who I am, but this wasn’t quite what I meant!”

I commented that this was the end of Big Red, her pet name for the vehicle. She still thought she could get it fixed, but her husband put his foot down and said it was the end for the van. Now she is stuck driving the brand new Honda van they bought this winter that she didn’t like very much because of all the fancy gadgets on it.

What is the most embarrassing thing that happened to you in public?  What has been your favorite vehicle?

Fledged!

Despite still living at home, YA is pretty independent.  One of the characteristics of this independence is that I sometimes find out about things after the fact.  When she changed her employment five years ago, from one gym to another, she told me about it the day after she accepted the new job.  Two years ago I found out she was thinking about an MBA program after she had already applied and been accepted.  I’ve never really challenged her on this; I assume she sometimes doesn’t want to be swayed by any strong opinions that her mother might have.

As the end of her MBA program loomed, I knew she was applying for various internships and jobs and occasionally I would hear about it.  When she was approached by a recruiter and did a few interviews, it came up for discussion.  When she applied to the FBI, we talked briefly about how long she would have to go to Quantico for training (I don’t think either of us thought this would pan out).   The first I heard about the last job application was when she informed me she had an interview.  At my company.  I do see all the job postings for my company but most of them have long lists of requirements that she doesn’t fit, so I hadn’t been actively looking at all of them.  When she got a second interview, I was a little surprised because I know how competitive it is out there and she hadn’t even officially finished her graduate degree.  When the third interview went over an hour, I had a good feeling and I was correct; they called and offered her the job the next morning.

In the Travel division (in which I work), we call all the other divisions “the other side of the house”.  I don’t know if those other divisions call Travel “the other side” but I expect I’m about to find out.  And it’s a little weird that in two weeks she’ll be working more hours than I will (since I’m still only at half time).  I’ve noticed in the last few days she’s been slightly more interested in what I’m doing for work although it’s not a “I’m going to have to do that” kind of interest.  Just a “oh, she’s doing work for my company” kind of interest.  At least that what it seems like.  We’ve talked a little about going this weekend to check out the building she’ll be working in and a little bit about timecards.  We discussed carpooling, although I won’t be going into my building until the summer is over so it won’t be an issue until then. 

I’m very proud of her but it’s impossible to know if I’m just a bit extra proud because she’s joining me at a company where I’ve been very happy for 30+ years. 

What was your first job?

Farm Update!

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

It’s the first part of May when this posts and I’ve got some corn planted and we had some rain finally. But in farming blogs, we are still back in early April and I’ve got one field of oats to plant yet.

I worked at the college, had some meetings and changed three house lights in the theater. Went out about 7 o’clock at night to work up the last field to be oats. The new LED headlights on the tractor are fantastic. Such a white color and so bright, they are awesome. Only problem is, it is so dry, there is so much dust behind me I can barely see. No breeze, so it all just hung with me.

The new LED interior light is really nice too. A nice orange to light up the controls, it’s very bright and really nice.

Rain predicted for the last two days has not amounted to anything. Sprinkles last night, about noon today it rained enough to make the cement wet. Still talking rain overnight and scattered showers the next two days. We did get .4”.

The day after the rain I did plant part of the last field of oats. Well, I started and tried. We’ve gotten just enough rain the dirt is a little bit sticky. Dirt sticks to the press wheels of the drill and builds up. (There are blades which cut a track the seed drops into, and then the ‘press wheels’ cover it up.) It’s a problem when dirt builds up on them, because that affects the depth of the seed. I planted ¾ of the field before I ran out of seed, but I really shouldn’t have been planting in these conditions anyway. But they’re talking more rain so I’m trying to rush and that is rarely helpful. I swapped a press wheel that seems to be dragging. Left the crescent wrench lay on the drill and lost it in the field somewhere. Dang. It should be easy to find; it’s shiny and silver laying in black dirt. And it should have fallen off the back so not run over or anything, it should just be laying right there. I walked the field, I drove the field with the gator, and the 4 wheeler. Multiple times. I cannot find it.

Three weeks later I found a crescent wrench in the bottom of the tool box. Hmmm… was that wrench always down there? Did I somehow put the wrench from the drill down there? Or is this a different wrench? It’s a mystery, but since I still haven’t found one in the field, maybe…? 

Most every farmer carries some tool with him. As I grew up, the multi tools, like Leatherman or Gerber, weren’t popular, or maybe not even invented yet so Dad and I carried pliers. Dad wore the pants with a plier pocket built in. I didn’t like that; I wore a belt with a pouch for the pliers and a pouch for a swiss army knife. The pliers are on my left side, knife on my rear right, cell phone clipped to my right pocket. At the college, if I’m wearing my tool belt, all the tools, including the pliers, are on my right. I have to move the phone to my left pocket and my hammer hangs on my left side too. I’ve tried wearing the hammer at my back like the professional carpenters do… still working on that; it’s not natural yet.

It takes a day or two at each place to remember where my pliers are. I’ve tried swapping the pliers at home, but they’re heavy and they pull the belt out of the loops when undone and then the pliers fall out. So that doesn’t work.

Dad wore his belt buckle off to the side, like after the first belt loop. I never understood that. He just said it’s how he learned. Maybe because he was lefthanded.

How ambidextrous are you? What do you always carry?

Arkoudaphobia

My little neighbor, who is six, gave me a very stern warning over the weekend.  “My friend had a bear come up on her deck to eat from her bird feeder.  So be really careful and be sure to close your gate at night.”

I’m not sure where the friend lives, but I’m pretty sure it’s not in southwest Minneapolis.  We normally keep an eye on the gate so the dog doesn’t get out, but I will admit that I did look out the back window last night to make sure it was closed!

Any irrational fears you’ll admit to?

Rabbit Whimsy

Last month Bill (I think it was Bill) mentioned Voyage to the Bunny Planet by Rosemary Wells.  It had been in print a few years before I was first read it to Child, but I remember that we had it from the library at some point.  The Hennepin Library doesn’t own a copy any longer but I was able to get it through InterLibrary Loan and I’m liking it so much that I’ve ordered myself a copy.  (I have a very modest children’s book collection – based solely on what I like).

There are three stories, each featuring a young bunny who has had an exceedingly bad day —  never-ending math class, horrible cousins, medicine that tastes like gasoline.  At the end of these bad days, the young bunnies wish for a visit to the Bunny Planet.  There they are greeted by the kind Queen Janet who invites them in with a “Here’s the day that should have been.”  Each bunny falls off to sleep with the visions of a perfect day dancing in their heads.

At the beginning of each story, there is a rabbit quote like this:

It is the first duty of a flagging spirit to seek renewal
in the latitudes of whimsy.  I, for one, dream on
beyond the give planets to a world without wickedness;
verdant, mild, and populated by amiable lapins.
Benjamin Franklin

The other quotes are from Rudyard Kipling (“The captain fell at daybreak, and ‘e’s ravin’ in ‘is bed, With a regiment of rabbits on the planets round ‘is ‘ead.”) and Galileo (“I designated this heavenly body “Coniglio,” but alas, never saw it again.”)

It’s gratifying to see rabbits making the grade in heavenly literature but I think it’s fascinating that Benjamin Franklin dreamed of whimsy and thought a perfect world would be a bunny haven.

I say whimsy all around!

Tell me about your “day that should have been” and how your perfect world would look?

Drought and Hail

Husband is outside getting ready to start watering our flower beds and strawberry patch. It is way too early to be watering, but we are in extreme drought here. I think we would welcome hail like the kind they got this week in Oklahoma as long as it came with several inches of rain.

We are supposedly famous for the high incidence of hail here, but we haven’t had more than one memorable hail storm in the 30 years we lived here. That took our shingles, and resulted in our insurance agent and the roofer almost getting in a fist fight on the roof over some procedural shingle replacement short cut our agent objected to.

What is your experience with insurance claims? Any memorable hail storms? Are you too insured or a risk taker?

Fun times

I ran across this article in the Rock County Star Herald the other day, found in the newspaper archives from 1892 by the president of the Rock County Historical Society:

“It gives the Herald much pleasure to announce that the committee in charge of the Fourth of July celebration to be held at this place have been fortunate enough to secure for that occasion Prof. A. L. Ward, of Sioux City, IA . , one of the most celebrated and daring aeronauts in the country, who is now under contract to be at Luverne at the time stated and make one of his famous balloon ascensions and parachute jumps. The balloon to be used on this occasion is in the neighborhood of thirty feet in height and is equipped for the performance of the most daring feats ever witnessed in the country.

On the way up Prof. Ward gives a thrilling performance on the trapeze and takes with him a trained dog which creates much amusement and interest in making a parachute descent of his own. After going as high as his balloon will carry him, Prof. Ward discharges a number of explosives and then jumps from his balloon with a parachute. The exhibition will be one of the thrilling interest and no one should fail to witness it.

By the direction of the committee the president was requested to extend an invitation to the fire department. Half rates will be given on all the railroads and efforts are being made to secure special trains.”

I wish Betty, the Historical Society President, had also included a follow-up review of Prof. Ward’s jump. I also wanted more information on the dog. We are seriously planning to move to Luverne in a couple of years. There still is an element of fun in town. This appears to be a long standing, historical trend.

What are some fun times you remember in the community in which you grew up or where you live now. What kind of celebration would you like to see in your community? Under what circumstances would you do a parachute jump?

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