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?

Over and Over Again

As you all know, I listen to books on CD in the car (and occasionally I drag them into the house as well), audiobooks on my laptop and old-fashioned regular books!   I “curate” my library account so that I don’t have too many things from the library at once and am always happy to find a book that comes in multiple formats.  The format I am still unwilling to embrace is kindle.

A couple of weeks ago the book She Who Became the Sun sparked my interest, so I looked it up and it came in audiobook format.  Since I was getting close to done with my current audiobook and only had one other “up to bat”, I asked for it.  Loaded it and then yesterday morning, hit “Play”. 

I knew in the first minute that I had read this book before.  I was sure of it.  The title resonated but I had assumed it was because She Who Became the Sun is exactly the kind of title that intrigues me.  I looked it up on my spreadsheet and I did indeed read it in 2017!  I can tell you only the vaguest of plot outlines now that I realize I’ve read it, but it’s VERY vague.  I thought about reading it again but decided if I can hardly remember that I’ve read it, much less remember the plot, I’ll move on.  Not quite as bad as having started Devil in the White City THREE times but at least in that scenario I never read the whole book (I always bale when the maggot scene happens in the first chapter). 

Do you ever go to the fridge repeatedly, hoping to find something new there?

Project Hail Mary

I don’t to think of myself as any author’s shill but…..

Spent pretty much all of three days doing not much besides reading Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir.  I’d say I couldn’t put it down but was listening to it on CD so not physically holding it.  I don’t want to give much of a recap because there are about a million spoiler alerts but suffice it to say, here is a list of why you might like it if:

  • You liked The Martian
  • You like science fiction
  • You like stories about space
  • You like science explained in a way you can understand it
  • You like humor mixed in with your science
  • You like a main character who is flawed but still very likeable
  • You like books that draw direct comparisons to current issues without bludgeoning you with them
  • You like stories that draw out a little of your emotion

I sent an email to Andy Weir telling him how much I liked it (and he emailed me back within a couple of hours!).  If there were an Andy Weir Fan Club, I suppose I would now officially be a member.  With today’s social media, are there even fan clubs anymore?

What’s the last book you couldn’t put down?

Waited On Hand And Foot

Daughter is coming home for a visit Friday through next Monday, the weather gods willing, and we are all excited. She hasn’t been home for two years. She is currently working six days a week at her agency job and her private therapy practice, and is exhausted. She begins her full time private practice in mid April.

Her plans are to vegetate on the sofa, crochet an afghan for us, and be pampered. We have the yarn. She doesn’t want to go any where, just be at home and have us cook for her.

We planned menus yesterday. There will be chicken enchiladas Friday, German roast pork braised in apple cider with butternut squash risotto Saturday, and pasta with mom’s red sauce and Calabrian meatballs and bruschetta on Sunday. Monday will be leftovers. Her dad has to make bacon and scrambled eggs for her. The bacon must be Cloverdale brand, thick-sliced, hickory-smoked variety, cooked just the way she likes it, meaning it is crisp in the middle and more chewy on the ends. She also wants homemade French bread. I already have two loaves in the freezer as well as the chicken, pork loin, meatballs, and red sauce. There is one remaining butternut from the garden. I think we are set.

What would you request if you could have someone cook for you for three days. When was the last time you were waited on hand and foot?

Getting There

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

A little more snow came down, some rain too, which means a lotta mud. But a lot of snow has melted, and the Red Wing Blackbirds are back, and I’d expect to hear Killdeer anytime, and it could be spring any day now.

Will you smell it first or see it first?

There’s a road coming up out of Rochester that the old timers call ‘Guysinger Hill’. Must have been Guysingers living there at some point. It’s a 3/4-mile uphill curved road and one of the main routes out of the NE side of town. If you’ve been in Rochester less than 30 years, you probably don’t know it by that name.

Same with ‘Samples Hill’, ‘Signal Hill’, or the other colloquial names.

Back in 1983 or ‘84, I was coming home after a cast party and there had been 5” of wet snow and it was all I could manage to get up Guysinger in grandmas ‘67 Plymouth Valiant.

Rear wheel drive you know.
It was late at night, and I was going as fast as I dared when I hit the bottom of the hill. Lost speed the whole way up, and when I finally reached the top, the car was barely crawling, my white knuckles grasping the wheel. At the time there wasn’t a more direct route to our house. There were other roads several miles out of my way and those roads had their own hills. (Rochester was built in a bowl: that’s why the flooding can be so devastating.)

Now days there are several other routes home, but I still often take Guysinger hill. And on snowy days, usually when following someone in the snow driving slower than me as happen last week, I think about that scary night in 1983.

Last week I posted a photo of the junk drawers in the shed. I was in those drawers trying to find some hydraulic fittings.

I’m making some hoses to plug into the hydraulics from the loader, which are in the middle of the tractor, so that I can have a third hydraulic at the back of the tractor for the tilt function on my rear blade. I figured this would be easy. Couple 8-foot hoses, couple connectors, Budda Bing Budda Boom, Bobs your uncle.

Well first, Fleet Farm didn’t have two, 8-foot,1/2-inch hydraulic hoses. Nor did they have the right  combination of 1/2-inch couplers (The male and female end. There are different kinds of couplers too; pipe thread, and ‘O-ring’ and I think something else I don’t know what it’s called) They did have two, 3/8-inch, 6-foot hydraulic hoses and I decided maybe I could make that work. Found a couple 3/8-inch male and female ends that I needed and got home to discover 6 feet was too short. Back the next day to Fleet Farm, and got two, 2’ foot hydraulic hoses, and a couple unions to attach the two hoses together. Built the first hose and got it in place, the next day built the second hose and realized I put the wrong ends on the one end. A hydraulic hose, like an extension cord, typically has a male and a female end. But because this was special, and I was trying to make it do something unusual, I need two female ends. I was feeling pretty stupid about this point; it should have been obvious to me.

When I start back at the college in the fall, it always takes me a while to get back in the swing of things in the shop. I feel like I’ve forgotten how to cut a board. Measure four times, cut five.

That’s what I felt like here, I forgot how to farm. Plus I just felt dumb that I didn’t realize some of these things in the first place. The next day I was up at John Deere and I bought the 1/2-inch correct ends. Took the hoses back out, swapped the ends, got them back in place, hooked them up to the loader connections, went back to plug-in the blade and, I realize a 1/2-inch male plug on the blade will not plug into a 3/8-inch female connector on the hose.

You would think I’d know that.

You would think I would’ve realized, 3/8 is not the same as 1/2. I know this. I know that 3/8-inch is not 1/2-inch. Why that didn’t dawn on me sooner, I don’t know. I was just so excited that I was creating this. I was being inventive, and problem-solving. And blinded by my creativity.



So. I can buy a 3/8 to 1/2 adapter and use the 3/8-inch inch male ends I bought in the first place and change the half inch ends on the blade the 3/8, or I can buy two more female 1/2-inch ends and the 1/2 to 3/8 adapters and change the ends on the new hoses. Jeepers creepers. I’m not sure I’m smart enough to be a farmer yet.

This reminds me of replacing a window screen last summer. Took me three trips to the hardware store to get that mostly right. A friend kept telling me I could have taken it to the hardware store, and had them do it, and it would have cost less and been done right the first time. Right, but this way I learned something.

What I’m learning about hydraulic hoses on this project is that I really need to think it though more.

What have you overlooked lately? When’s the last time you were on a swing? Board, tire, or rope?

It’s a Sign!

When I was in my junior year of college, I lived on the fourth floor of one of the original buildings.  Only two rooms (both triples) and no elevator.  I shared with two other women who had, like I had, lived in a single room our sophomore years.  Knowing we would probably get low numbers in the room choice lottery after having singles, we banded together to get a better room than if we struck out alone.

The other room on our floor was also a triple with 3 seniors.  They weren’t around all that much and we didn’t really socialize with them.  So we were surprised when they lugged a full sized Mobil Gas Pegasus sign up the steps and installed it in the hallway between the two rooms.  We spent the rest of the year explaining it to anyone brave enough to come up to the fourth floor!  Personally I never understood the appeal.

I moved to my current house about 30 years ago – about three blocks from the old Boulevard Theatre.  As the years went by, it deteriorated until it just couldn’t afford to stay open.  People were outrated and actually picketed in front of the theatre with it’s huge iconic sign.  Eventually the owners agreed to keep the sign although the theatre was no more.  It is still there, looking rattier and tattier by the year.

And now more signage in my neighborhood is in the news.  The Aqua City Motel and Metro Inn, a little farther down on Lyndale have their iconic signage up for sale.  Both properties actually belong to Hennepin County these days, having been purchased during pandemic when the county was using both motels for temporary housing.  Right now both properties are empty and awaiting renovation into affordable housing. 

I wasn’t crazy about the pegasus sign, I think the Boulevard sign is ridiculous looking and I can’t even imagine why anyone would want a Metro Inn or Aqua City sign but I’m sure that there is someone out there who will think they are purchasing a piece of history and will shell out way too much cash for it.  Takes all kinds.

Any iconic signs you remember from your childhood?  Have you ever acquired a sign?

Vanity Plates

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty

I read a funny story online a couple of days ago.  Apparently the State of Maine has recalled 274 license plates because they were deemed inappropriate.  “How did they GET these inappropriate plates in the first place?” you may ask.  I certainly did.

Until the last few years Maine has been one of the few states that didn’t seriously police their vanity plate program.  In fact about 7 years back, they did away with the review process for vanity plates.  If you asked for it and it wasn’t taken (and you were willing to cough up the fee), it was yours.  As you can imagine, some very interesting plates were issued.  VERY interesting.

Maine decided it had gotten out of hand, so now they have re-instituted a review policy AND recalled 274 plates that crossed their new, arbitrary line.  Including the one in the photo above.  The family with the plate are vegan.  It’s hard to tell in the photo but there are other tofu- and vegan-related stickers on the car.  But because the word tofu ends in FU and the phrase is “suggestive”, Maine says they can’t drive around town with this plate on their car.  They appealed and lost their case.  In fact, no one who has appealed has gotten their questionable plates restored.  The next step is to file suit in the Maine Supreme Court but nobody has gone that far yet. 

Seems like a big kerfuffle for me after being a vegetarian for 50+ years, I would certainly read it correctly.  Part of me thinks so what if somebody has a blatantly foul license plate and part of me thinks I might not be too happy to stuck in traffic behind someone with a racist or outright pornographic plate.  Aah, the dilemmas of our modern age.

If you had to design your own license plates (no cost to you), what would you want on them?

Finally – Pi!!

Some of you probably remember the frantic phone calls and/or emails from me on Friday, March 13, 2020.  It was the week the world turned upside down.  I’d had a few cancels already but didn’t really think having a Pi Day party was a big deal.  Then I spent all of Friday morning reading online articles about the virus, its spread, the possible consequences lurking around the corner and decided I didn’t need to add to the problem.  It really bummed me out as I had already shopped for all the ingredients, set up things in the dining room and even made the placecards. 

Back then I was one of many who thought it would be over by the end of summer. Nobody was really saying pandemic yet.  Thinking I might have a Pi & ½ Day in September, I put the placecards and the list of ingredients in the drawer along with my “which pie goes in the oven at what time and what temperature” spreadsheet.  Of course September was out of the question.  So was March 2021 and even March 2022.

So Pi Day 2023 was easy peasy.  All the upfront planning was done.  And since I am (mostly) retired, I had plenty of time to do some ahead-of-time prep.  I even had the nametags done from 2020.  11 pies (Dutch Apple, Blueberry, Red Velvet Whoopie, Vanilla Crumb, Banofee, Crack, Pecan Dream, PB Crunch, Pear Croustade, Lemon Custard, Berry Cobbler).  I got done in record time. The pie was great and the camaraderie was warm. 

Why should you never start talking to pi at a party?

Saving Time?

I struggle to get in enough exercise – I almost always have – especially in winter.  Stationary biking at the gym and swimming laps is about what I’m up for during the cold months.  Thank goodness for snow shoveling.  At this time of year (the first couple of months after New Year’s resolutions), it’s normally a bit busier at the gym so I never expect to find a close parking spot.  It’s even worse right now because of the snow in the parking lot which has been haphazardly plowed recently.

This isn’t a big deal for me.  By the time I’ve revved myself up to get to the gym, I’m usually in a “it’s some extra steps” frame of mind.  But obviously on Saturday, not everybody was in the mood to get some additional exercise getting from the car to the front door.

What do you have to talk yourself into doing?

Dog Talk

One of the most trying aspects of our Grandson’s two week stay has been managing his interactions with our dog. Kyrill is a terrier, therefore terribly intrusive and curious. Grandson doesn’t like the way the dog invades his space and hovers. The dog just wants to be a part of everything. He also seems to be anxious, and when he isn’t following Grandson he is sitting in my lap. I am never alone. That has been stressful.

I found that the best way of helping Grandson understand the dog’s behavior is to talk in what I imagine the dog’s voice would be, explaining my (the dog’s) motives and feelings. The dog’s voice is lower than my regular speaking voice, with some difficulty saying his L’s. Grandson is young enough to suspend reality and have conversations with the dog (me), explaining how he feels about the dog’s behavior. Sometimes Grandson will say something, and then tell me “Oma, I am talking to Kyrill”, letting me know I have to answer him in Kyrill’s voice and from Kyrill’s point of view. Like us, the dog has been glad for our Grandson’s stay, but, like us, also looking forward to having things back to normal.

Do you have a particular voice you use for your pets? What would your pets say to you if they could talk? What were your best and worst childhood pets?

Mud & Junk & Acting

The weekend Farm Report comes to us from Ben.

It’s mud season. Everything is mud. And not just our farm; on FB or YT, the farmers I follow are all complaining about the mud. I don’t miss the mud I dealt with when I had cows. Even the chickens are trying to get out of it.

And we haven’t had the worst of it. Wait until the frost starts to come out. 

Lately, I end up washing all the eggs just because they’re covered with muddy footprints. 

And another snowstorm ain’t helping.

I got the car washed two days in a row (I have a wash membership) and the guy even said “You must live way out in the woods!” Not much point trying to keep it clean, it’s just to wash off the outer layer of grime.

Trying to move snow after the latest round and now the ground is soft and it’s really hard not to rip up sod and dirt or move the gravel around. And I thought to myself, I go through this every spring; you’d think it would have leveled out by now. But a bump on the front wheels makes the rear blade go down an equal amount. Or a lump on the rear wheels and the front loader digs in. Slow down and make the best of it. Eventually the lawn mower will level that back off.

I was digging in the junk drawer in the shed the other day. You thought your house junk drawer was bad.

The only thing I routinely use out of here are hydraulic couplers, fuses, and the little lightbulbs for your car taillights. I sure don’t need this cabinet for those few things. But there’s a flat surface on the top so I can put things there! I assume it’s from our old house… Dad put it here. This summer, GONE!

All those things sitting on top? Hydraulic fittings. Two different types, one of which doesn’t fit anything I have anymore. WHY AM I STILL SAVING THEM??

I picked up Allie’s ashes. Bailey and Allie just tormented each other and it appears Baily is basically saying ‘I got your pillow; suck it Allie!’.

Humphrey always plays it cool. Or maybe he just has tummy ache. He is delicate and if he eats carrion, he doesn’t feel good and I have to give him GasX. Plus, He is eight years old, basically our age. Naps are good. 

I was reading the daily email I get from the weather channel talking about the comet Hale-Bopp appearing in 1997. I had a calf named Hale-Bopp. Sometimes it got hard to name calves. Sometimes you just used whatever was available. I had several weather related name for calves.

Chicks are in short supply. And I don’t say like I need a date; I say that as someone who generally orders chicks in March for delivery in a couple weeks. I mentioned last week I was starting to think about chicks and then saw on the news how there was a shortage, and when I logged in to Hoovers Hatchery, the first available was June! And depending on the breed ordered, it might be July! 

I ended up revising the breeds I wanted in order to get June 1 shipment. Which is still 6 – 8 weeks later than I prefer. It has pros and cons; I’ve gotten chicks in March before and the temperature crashes and while they are in a heated pen, it’s just harder when that happens. (I tried fall chicks once too; got them in October. Two weeks later it was 20 degrees and their water was freezing at night.) Mid-April is usually pretty safe weather wise, but it’s a busy time at work and home. Ok, so June should avoid both of those…but now we’re into January or February before we get eggs. And the current chickens taper off around December, meaning well, we might be in an egg crunch again from our farm. 

Why a chick shortage? What came first;  the shortage of the chicken or the egg? Avian flu and millions of chickens killed. Hence the egg shortage for a while as the hens get to laying age. Prices on eggs are up so people decided to raise their own chickens. In a year, (or the first cold week. Or when the price comes back down) there will be a surplus of ‘mature’ chickens on marketplace. I’ve gotten a lot of chickens because people were not prepared or interested in raising chickens during the winter. 

I am in this play called ‘Master Class’. It’s Maria Callas having a master class. (Born Maria Anna Cecilia Sophie Kalogeropoulou; December 2, 1923 – September 16, 1977, was one of the most renowned and influential opera singers of the 20th century.”- Wiki) I am the ‘stagehand’. I have 9 lines and I bring out a footstool, a cushion, and I refill her water glass. It is fun to be ‘onstage’ again, but when I go out for curtain call and bows, I still think to myself, “This is not right; I’m not supposed to be out here.” First rehearsal I was asking the director about this stagehand; what’s his motivation. Maria is not a pleasant woman toward him. Did he work AC/DC last night? Finally I just asked, ‘Does he have attitude?’ Oh yes, she said, there’s attitude. Perfect.

They say, keep trying things until the director tells you to back off, then you know when you’ve gone far enough. The director didn’t tell me to back off until I got a toothpick with cellophane on the end. I wanted to play him like a 1950’s old guy; stubby cigar and faded tattoo. She wouldn’t let me do tattoos. I opted for the smallest hammer, a different colored toothpick for each entrance, and I wanted a bad toupee but had to make do with an old ladies wig. (Every night, I wet it down and smooth out the curls). But it’s a fun group, and a good experience.


%d bloggers like this: