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?

Garden Preparations

This weekend Husband and I plan to order our seeds for the garden. Husband has picked out three varieties of zinnia seeds. We will have our usual San Marzano 2 and Brandy Boy tomatoes which we will start in March. I found a source for the Doux D’Espana red sweet peppers. They are unavailable from our usual suppliers, so I hope the new source is reliable. I have no idea why they are in such short supply. We will also grow New Mexico Joe Parker Anaheim peppers.

Husband wants to plant turnips this year instead of kohlrabi. He will have them all to himself, as I don’t like turnips. I don’t like kohlrabi, either. He also wants to grow 12 heads of Alcosa savoy cabbage. We agreed on growing more Hamburg turnip-rooted parsley, as it is so good in soup and stock. We will grow our regular peas, Italian giant winter spinach, chard, Hidatsa pole beans and green beans, Italian parsley, and butternut squash. I am feeling tired already!

What are your summer garden plans? Any travel plans? What flowers do you like to grow? Any opinions about turnips?

The Favor

As you all know, I adore being retired.  It’s been six months and the novelty has not worn off.  And my boss knows as well.  When she called me last week, the first words out of her mouth were “don’t hang up on me”.  Two new programs for the first week of May have just sold, an unusual happenstance for this late in the fiscal year.  They are warehouse programs, of which I was the undisputed queen, and nobody else has any wiggle room in their workload to fit these in.  Could I pretty please with a cherry on top come out of retirement on a temporary, part time basis and run these two programs?

I thought about it over the weekend and got input from several friends (all of whom said “go for it’ – I need new friends).  When I told my boss I would do it, I gave her a long list of requirements, all of which she agreed to.  Rats.  I also told her that this was a big favor and it was the only one she was going to get.  If these programs re-up next year, I won’t do them.  And she can’t apply the favor to a non-warehouse program.  It’s these two and no others.

I’m not all that excited about this development, but all my former team-mates are ecstatic.  Not so much because I’m coming back temporarily but because now they know they don’t have to try to squeeze either of these programs into their calendar!

Tell me about a huge favor you’ve done for someone.  Or a huge favor they’ve done for you!

Stonehenge-ette

I’m not sure what I looked at online in November that caused “Build Your Own Stonehenge” to start popping up as side ads on my pc.  It looked cute and I already have a “Build Your Own Carcasonne” from a trip years ago.  Then I made the ultimate mistake – I clicked on the ad.  It was smaller than I thought and cheaper.  Both good things.

I put it on my list for the holidays, not expecting to get it; YA doesn’t always humor my eccentricities.  When I unwrapped it on Solstice, I’d kind of forgotten about it, to tell the truth.  It was much easier to put together than I had expected; all the standing stones and bluestones had numbers on the bottom that corresponded to marks on the earthwork piece.  (I had a layout of Stonehenge pulled up on the internet in case I had to figure it out myself.) After I laid it out once, I hot glued everything down.  I think it’s adorable; YA isn’t impressed.  It’s living in my studio now, next to my miniature castle.  I wonder what other “build your own” project will attract my attention next.

Have you ever built a model of anything?

How Cozy

Normally I don’t pick up the BookPage supplement that the library sets out every month.  More ideas about what to read are NOT necessary in my life.  I have lists and lists.  People suggest books to me all the time.  This isn’t a problem, it just means I don’t need to go looking. 

Last week, while the kitchen project was happening, I spend all day every day sitting on the sofa, so that I could be available if needed.  I wrote blogs for the trail, looked at Facebook, read a lot.  When I picked up a couple of books from the library, I grabbed not just the regular supplement but also a “Looking Forward to 2023” special edition as well.  Seemed like a good project for a week of sofa-surfing.

It was surprising to come across a page devoted to “Cozy Mysteries”.  Believe it or not, I have never heard this phrase before, although in reading through the blurbs, I knew immediately what they were talking about. Protagonist (99.9% women), mostly small town settings, a murder that only the protagonist can solve. I spent over a year reading tons and tons of cozy mysteries; I couldn’t get enough.  I’m not sure what was driving this but after about a year, the desire to read more of them simply vanished.  But I never realized that these stories had garnered a genre all to themselves.

When I was in the bookstore, it was pretty straightforward.  Fiction, nonfiction, children’s.  Fiction was split into fiction, science fiction, romance and mystery.  Non-fiction was historical, self-help, cooking, biography/memoir.

Now we have debut fiction, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, dystopian fiction, mystery, cozy mystery, horror, thriller, literary fiction (this one slays me), young adult, graphic novels, biography, autobiography, memoir, true crime.  I could actually keep going but….

I guess all this micro-categorization can be helpful to folks when they are looking for something to read but since I tend to read across a lot of genres, it doesn’t matter so much to me.  I do still read an occasional cozy mystery; I can’t stay away from Susan Wittig Albert.  Knowing that this kind of work now has a name of its own name seems charming.

Anything in your life that you like to micro-manage?

Before & After

YA and I have a disagreement about one thing at the State Fair.  She loves to go through the Home Improvement Building, see all the vendors, ask questions, take brochures and cards.  I do not.  Honestly, on days when I go by myself, I skip the building altogether.  But when we go together, I always trail after her.

This is how we ended up with cabinet refinishers sitting in our dining room in mid-October.  Contract signed, cabinet fronts selected, countertop material chosen, knobs and pulls picked out.  The original date they suggested was the first week of December.  I pushed it to January – between our Hawaii adventure, the Great Gift Exchange and the holidays, I couldn’t face having no kitchen during any of those times.

All the time we waited and made preparations, I was anxious.  Seems like nobody has ever had a big home improvement project go smoothly.  When they said it would take a week, I expected it would take longer.  In fact, Occasional Caroline and I worked out that if the remodel didn’t go as planned, we would do Blevins at her place instead of mine.  I set up the plumber and the electrician for a week after the project was supposed to be finished.  Weird, anxiety-ridden dreams filled my nights for a week before they showed up.  And we can’t even get into how long it took to get everything out of my kitchen and breakfast room.  The photo above is the front porch… the dining room looked similar.  It took me 6 days.

Turns out this project was the exception to the rule.  Jake showed up on time every morning and was finished by 10 a.m. on Friday.  4½ days.  No surprises, no unexpected issues.  Of course since my anxiety had scheduled the plumber so far out, I had a great looking kitchen but no water.  And no point in moving the fridge back until there was water.  Luckily I was able to reschedule the plumber for Saturday morning and the electrician is coming this morning.  (Electrician is just to provide better wiring for the hood over the stove.)

I’ve started putting everything back – I expect to be all done in the next day or so.  It still seems unreal to me that all my low-level worry came to naught.  Of course, I’ve been to the hardware store seven times now for this 4½ day project (s hooks, little can of white paint, contact paper, electric face plate, wire, cleaning stuff, etc.)  

When was your last pleasant surprise?

January Bleary

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

Middle of January now, gray days, average temperatures, and we must persevere. A couple more weeks, we’ll start to see some change in the daylight, and hope will return.

I’ve been able to do more chores again. Feeding the chickens and ducks and collecting eggs. One day there was 7 male pheasants came from the East, while the 5 females come from the North to eat the corn we throw out. 

I watched a flock of 12 ducks fly figure 8’s over the yard one day. Four finally landed in the pond. Not sure where the rest went.

Bailey played King Of the Hill all by herself.

I’m back to work half days now for a couple of weeks. Then I’ll go full time. The knee is still doing fantastic. Now it’s just getting all those muscles stretched out again and used to walking and retraining those left leg muscles to walk straight instead of bowlegged.

Movies this week were Judgement at Neurenberg, Glass Onion, and Passing Strange (A little known Rock Musical that I really like.

Other movies during various recoveries this year have included Men Who Stare At Goats Animal House, Kill Bill 1 & 2, Django Unchained. (Boy…those Tarantino movies. Kelly won’t watch them. If you don’t know, there’s a lot of blood, and a lot of language).

Obviously having a job is cutting into my movie viewing time so still on my ‘To View’ list is Citizen Kane (for the 8th time) Bridge on River Kiwi, Blazing Saddles (For the umpth time) The Terminal, and the Original The Producers (For the 3rd time).

I’ve got everything locked in now for spring of 23. Oat seed has been reserved and paid for, soybean Seed ordered and paid for, and corn seed ordered and charged. Oats is $11.70 per bushel and I plant three bushels per acre. Soybeans are planted at 55 pounds per acre and a 50lb bag is either $50 for non-treated or $60 for treated. (Treated for insects and rot if the ground is wet when planted.) Corn prices vary depending on the variety and things, but my average cost is $269 per bag. A bag will do a little over 2 1/2 acres and a bag is 80,000 kernals.  I  order a little extra in case I don’t have rates’ quite right or I over plant on the corners or heck, might even spill half a bag on the ground. And we can always return to the dealer what we don’t use. There’s nothing worse than being almost done and it’s 6 o’clock at night and there’s rain on the horizon and I need one more bag of seed. Been there done that.

I had a cement contractor to the farm the other day, looking at pouring some cement either inside the shed and ideally, I would build a wall and insulate and get my warm shop. But of course, a slab outside would be nice to so that I have a place to work on things without lying on the gravel. We will see what the prices are. Like everything, last year the price of concrete increased at a rate no one had seen before. Until this year when it increased again an unheard-of amount. Ballpark around here is $190 per yard just for the concrete not counting site prep work and labor.

I’ve mentioned a few times in the past about remodeling at a local theater and now some HVAC work. The HVAC work was begun in August, new ductwork was installed, and some old things removed, hopefully the rooftop unit will arrive in March. This past week, they installed a ships ladder, and cut a hole in the roof so we have roof access from inside rather than an extension ladder outside the building. It’s really fun; I’ve been on the roof several times this week. Also, couple of supports and steel beams were placed on the roof to support the rooftop unit whenever it gets here. I had a good time talking with both the sheet-metal workers and the ironworkers. The first day, I wanted to get up on the roof to see what was going on, but I didn’t think I should be climbing the outside extension ladder quite yet. It took me a few, tries to find the person that owned and operated the boom lift, and I played the “new knee card“and he took me on the roof.

It’s surprising the things you can do if you just ask. I got above the ceiling of the chapel at the local nuns home, Assisi Heights, because I happen to be there one day, putting up some stage lights for a show and their maintenance crew said they were going to replace some house lights so I asked if I could come along. That was an adventure.  In high school I always heard about the large ventilation pipes under the building and so we asked Milo the head maintenance guy. On the last day of school, he took my best friend Pete and I down to the basement and opened the door and said here you go, I’ll meet you over in the gym.  it was just a big metal tunnel, but it was still kind of cool. You just gotta ask.

Driving one day and the song ‘Open the Door Richard’ by Count Basie was on XM Radio. Remember the Bugs Bunny cartoon with Yosemite Sam chasing Bugs and Sam pounds on the door and yells “OPEN THIS DOOR!” then turns to the camera and says, “Notice I didn’t say Richard?”

Makes me laugh every time.

I returned a box to Acme Tools last week. The clerk asked me if there was an anvil in there.

What have you learned from cartoons?

What have you gained by just asking?

Odd Couples

Husband drives to Bismarck for work every Tuesday night, and returns home Wednesday night. He is usually pretty tired on both drives, and cranks up music on the radio to keep himself awake.

The other night he listened to the Sinatra station, and heard what he thought was one of the oddest duets he ever heard. It featured Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin singing What Now, My Love.

I have to agree with husband that this is quite weird. I can’t imagine what possessed the Queen of Soul to sing that with Ol’ Blue Eyes. Their styles are so different and not really compatible. Sort of like Ozzy Osbourne singing gospel music with Amy Grant.

What music keeps you awake when you drive? What are your favorite duets? What are some duets you wouldn’t want to hear?

Zoo Buddies

YA and I can’t go anywhere without seeking out the closest zoo or animal park (or both).  We were both actually surprised that there is a zoo in Honolulu.  When we were deciding on a hotel, we had several places marked on a map and while we didn’t choose Waikiki due to its proximity to the zoo, it certainly didn’t hurt that it was walking distance from our hotel.

It was bigger than I was expecting considering its prime location right off the beach and had a bigger variety of animals that I was expecting as well.  It was a quiet day when we were there so no jostling and every docent was all ours. 

There were three giraffes and one zebra together in a large savannah-like enclosure.  I asked the docent whey the two breeds were together; zebras have a reputation for not getting along with anybody else, including members of their own species and troop.  The docent told me that the larger/older giraffe was named Squirt and the zebra was named Mr. Z.  Apparently they had been housed together for many years until just recently when the two younger giraffes were introduced.  Mr. Z has access to his own space and sleeping area at all time but he prefers to hang out with Squirt and even sleeps with him.  The docent also told me that although Squirt seems to enjoy having the two younger giraffes arounds, he still prefers the company of his zebra pal.  The zoo considers them a bonded pair.

I love hearing stories like this so it was great to have the docent all to myself for a bit.  Of course, I got a rare YA photo that morning as well so it turned out to be a fabulous morning.

Do you have any “must dos” when you travel or when you have out of town visitors?

Safe From Marauding Trees

Guinevere is not a guard dog, despite her desire to be one.  When I spend time downstairs, especially if I’m hanging out on the sofa, she feels the needs to watch out the windows and alert me to the existence of dangerous dogs walking by the house, mutant squirrels touching any of our trees or bushes and any other life-threatening happenings out front.

So it wasn’t a surprise when she reacted to some tree work going on across the street.  It was fascinating; they had one of those big cherry pickers that had to anchored on both sides, two other big trucks on the street (which made the snow emergency a little tricky) and six guys that I could count, mostly up in the tree.  For a bit I was thinking they were taking the tree down with all that equipment and all those workers but it wasn’t an elm and otherwise had appeared to be fine.  After a couple of hours it was clear that they were just pruning and trimming.  The project lost a little luster for me at that point. 

But then I looked about a bit later and saw the strangest sight.  They had dragged all the bigger branches away to the chipper and were cleaning up…. using rakes!  Obviously rakes were the correct tool but you just don’t expect to see anyone raking during a snow emergency, the day after 10+ inches to snow.  (I know the picture isn’t great… I wanted to make sure that you could see that it was actually a rake.)

How can you identify a dogwood tree?  (All bad tree jokes and puns welcome!)

Posing With Dinosaurs

As you all know, YA and I travel pretty well together.  For the most part we like to do the same things, we are usually on the same page where restaurants are concerned and we’re both flexible about things that pop up or that change.

When we were planning our Hawaii trip, she was really interested in a UTV tour on Oahu.  It was on the other side of the mountain from Honolulu and took place on a big ranch where Hollywood likes to film.  In particular Jurassic Park and Jurassic World had scenes filmed there.  I’m not a big UTV fan.  First off, I don’t care for the driving; usually it’s rough terrain and I end up going pretty slow.  This either ticks off anybody in line behind me or ticks off the “sag” driver if I’m at the end.  But I also don’t feel all that safe with anybody else driving either – due to the rough terrain.  YA was pretty insistent so after getting her promise that she would drive the whole tour, I acquiesced. 

It was a gorgeous day and although it was rainy on the mountain road, once we got past that, the sun was shining and it was nice and warm.  The ranch owners are smart cookies.  In the 70s, when beef production fell, they started dipping their toes into the tourist industry.  But they never abandoned the cattle so when pandemic hit and tourism tanked, they stayed afloat on their beef business.  Today the tourism is back and they run a slick show with all kinds of different activities. 

The most fun part for me was that it was another of those days when YA lets me take pictures!  The header photo is of us in front of the UTV.  (The dino is thanks for a hand puppet – very clever.)  Then she let me take a photo in her driving gear:

And then there was another treat… she was willing to pose with a dinosaur at another stop where they have a few Jurassic props.

Honestly if I could figure out how the stars align for the few times she allows photos, I’d be in heaven!

Have you watched the Jurassic franchise?  Did you like any of them?

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