`Tis the Season

Today’s post comes from Verily Sherrilee

I like to think that I’m above marketing and advertising. Whoever invented the Mute button on the remote control should be canonized and when YA was younger I would routinely tell her that if you see it on TV it’s probably a lie.

But I never reckoned on seasonal marketing. When I was a kid, M&Ms were the same color all year round. Oreos were filled with white stuffing no matter the month and Ivory Soap was always in the same wrapper even on holidays. Not now!

So many products jump on the seasonal bandwagon: pasta, paper towels, soap dispenser, beer, pop, candy of all kinds and, of course, Oreos. I never even used to buy Oreos at all (I’m a Hydrox gal) but now I can’t keep away from them when they show up in stores with spring filling or green or the holiday red. Easter M&Ms, pasta in the shape of pumpkins or flags, Ritz crackers in the shapes of snowflakes, red and green tortilla chips, paper towels with bunnies and chicks or ghosts and goblins– I just can’t resist.

So I’ve finally succumbed to the realization that seasonal marketing has me licked and I don’t try to fight it. Yesterday alone I bought Hershey’s kisses in red & green foil, paper towels with snowmen and snowflakes, pasta in holiday shapes and snowflake crackers. Who knows what tomorrow will bring!

Do you have any seasonal favorites?

Duck for Thanksgiving

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown

Our good friend Walken (Husband’s BFF from the hippie farm days) lives several blocks from us here in Winona. Since the three of us are having Thanksgiving together, Walken suggested the other day that we look through his chest freezer for the Thanksgiving fowl, as he has a wealth of meat and poultry stashed there: some lamb, couple of chickens, and… a DUCK! So as I write this, sitting on a platter in my fridge is 6 ½  pounds of water fowl, begging the question:  what does one do with a duck?

First I go to the Joy of Cooking – on page 475 I read “About Wild Birds”, although there is no indication that this bird is wild-caught, being encased as it is in shrink wrap. At any rate I don’t need instructions for dry plucking or singeing it, but I did find these useful tidbits:

  • Duckling Rouennaise – “Unless you choke your duck, pluck the down on its breast immediately afterward and cook it within 24 hours, you cannot lay claim to having produced an authentic Rouen duck… If, as is likely, duck-strangling will bring you into local disrepute, you may waive the sturdy peasant preliminaries and serve a modified version, garnished with quotation marks.” (p. 474)   I had no idea Irma Rombauer et al. could be so tongue-in-cheek!
  • Roast Domestic Duck – “Most duck on the American market is not descended from wild native variety, but from a type bred in China where, of course, this bird is held in high esteem.” (p. 473)
  • Besides duck, turkey, and goose; there are recipes for guinea or cornish hen, pigeon, grouse, ptarmigan, prairie chicken, dove or wood pigeon, pheasant, partridge, quail, and snipe or woodcock, just in case you come upon any of these. (Before cooking, you must read “About Small Game Birds”.)

There are recipes for Roast Duck Bigarade and Apricot Honey Glazed Duck (involving brandy and Cointreau, both of which we have!).  Or there is, on p. 326, a nice Orange Sauce for Duck or Goose. I have also found a couple of things on line, including Julia Child’s Duck L’Orange, which looks like a lot of bother and will probably lose out to the Roast Duck L’Orange recipe at food.com.

Whatever I decide upon, it will be fun to try something out of the ordinary.

What, if anything, do you eat during the Holidays that veers away from the Traditional?



Today’s post comes from Crystalbay

It’s said that people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. My friendship with Greg is the most enduring and unusual of any I’ve ever experienced.  It began precipitously in 1974, when a girlfriend and I picked him up at a bar during my too-short window between marriages.  He was strikingly handsome, gregarious, and lonely.  He’d recently moved from Texas and had no friends.

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He also, as it turned out, disco danced better than John Travolta!  It didn’t take long before I had a schoolgirl crush on the guy.  We dated briefly before he told me, “I just want to be friends”.  In other words, he wasn’t attracted to me  “that way”.  This was more than just a little disappointing for me.  A few months later, I met the man who would be my second husband.  He was no where near as attractive to me as Greg was, but he filled a big hole in my life at that time.
Greg and I drifted away from each other, but I wondered for years whatever happened to him. There was no way I could find him because he’d legally changed his name to “Sean”.  Thirty years later, we found each other.  On Match.comno less.  Our faces had changed, but I looked familiar to him.  He messaged, “Are you Nancy with the laughing face?”.  He remembered my fondness for that old Sinatra song!
We’d both been divorced for two years.  He came to the cottage the next night and we sat in my double rocker in front of a glowing fire, sipping wine. I’d also put on some romantic music.  We talked for many hours about the 30 years apart and all that life had brought us.  I, of course, was flooded with thoughts of “This was meant to be!! Fate brought us back together!!”  As he was about to leave, we shared a kiss.  This nailed it for me. “This was meant to be!!!!”
A few days later on the phone, I alluded to my romantic interest in him – and he said, “I just want to be friends, Nance”.
Once again, I was crushed.  This is where the story gets interesting. If I couldn’t have a full relationship with the guy, I wanted nothing to do with him, but he kept calling and calling and calling.  It took about a year for me to move past my strong desire for him and begin to accept that he really meant what he’d said about being friends.
That was ten years ago, and to this day he phones me almost daily. For ten years.  We’ve engaged in lively conversations over 3,000 times since we reconnected, some of them highly stimulating, some of them just checking in, and some of them boring.  Our primary subject has been relationships and the gaping difference between men and women. At this point, he’s probably gotten half a million dollars worth of free therapy as I stayed by his side through years of gripping depression.  What he’s given to me is one person in my life who’s genuinely interested and caring about the day to day   I refer to this rare kind of friendship as “tracking”.  He’s my only tracker, wanting to know every detail of my life’s unfolding story. Having this consistent dialogue allows for everything to be held in a context.  Most friendships require “catching up” because time passes between contact.  With Greg and me, only one day passes.
Throughout the years, we’ve learned about the struggle between men and women from each other.  I get the male side from him; he’s gets the female side from me. I’ve named him the“King of Match.com” because a good looking guy his age is a very rare commodity.  There were times when he’d meet a new woman five times a week.  I don’t think he’s ever gone more than a few days without some romantic involvement.  He’s had a few long term girlfriends (meaning a year). I inquire about every one of his romantic escapades and give unsolicited feedback.  He’s a master at listening and loving to hear women’s stories even if there’s little attraction. Unfortunately for him, and even though I’ve helped him fully understand the psychology of his wounding, his childhood history continues to manifest by being attracted only to the very women emotionally unavailable for a long term commitment.
Never once in all of these years have we angry or disappointed in one another.  That alone is pretty rare, I think. He’s told me that I know more about him than any other human being in his life.  This goes both ways.  In fact, he’s never wanted me to meet one of his girlfriends out of fear that something will come out of my mouth that could jeopardize his new relationship.  Given that I can be somewhat unfiltered at times, he’s wise to not introduce us.  Over the years, several of his cast-offs have recognized me where I dance and, because every woman he’s dated knows all about me, they approach, asking, “Do you know Sean? Are you Nancy?”.  I have to remind myself that I’m the only person in his life who stubbornly still calls him “Greg”.  If any of these women knew how much he’s told me about them, they’d be more than a little distraught.
He continues his determined search for a woman with whom he can go the full distance, while I’ve discontinued dating five years ago. And, we continue our daily chats. I’ve helped teach him how to feel; he’s helped teach me how to stay rational. In the season, reason, or lifetime frame, this poor man is definitely a lifer.
What is the story of your BFF?

the circle

today’s post comes from tim

the colors i get in the walks around the neighborhood have been wonderful. i think it was bir who wished me new smells this spring when i was new to the house and all the surroundings. the walks with the dogs and the wife have been good. the circle of life is out there for all to see. i used to marvel at martha stewart and the calendar she was ruled by with seeds started. swapping sweaters and short boxes doing her christmas list of details and yet when you walk around outdoors the obvious that there is a cyclical nature that i have been standing in the midst of without acknowledging it.

we are starting birthday season at my house with the november birthday followed by a 2 december, 2 januarys , 3 februarys,  3 march than a break until june for the 2 at either end of the kid rollodex,

the dark afternoons and mornings make the hottub sessions a special deal.i enjoyed it so much last year i am reminded of the circle now that 7 pm or 6 am is dark. i need to put speakers out there but then again maybe not.

the paths around my neighborhood are incredible. there are trails in all directions and the dogs are different whichever we go. it is fn to see the response from them and from me.  the leaves came and went as did the flowers the critters the seasons the berries  the seasonal ronds will be something to look forward to.

im waiting for the costco christmas trees to show up. i need to grab one quick. they dont last long.


whats a reocurring event you look forward to

Bags of Time

Today’s post comes from Verily Sherrilee

Right now I’m feeling pressed for time – I’m almost done with holiday prep and Nonny is coming next week. I have two separate lists and there’s not much time for sitting around. I read this Billy Collins poem last night and love the idea of having bags of time.

It seems like so much more than just my regular old time; I could get boatloads more done!

What would you do with bags of time?

The Hand You’re Dealt

Today’s post comes from Wessew.

I love playing cards. I rarely ever make a wager on card playing, so my love is not based on avariciousness.

I enjoy making the best of what I am dealt. Early on Crazy Eights and Go Fish were my games of choice. Then, several winter nights in 1963, my whole deck was changed. My sisters and I were taught how to play Pinochle. There was a three day blizzard with little to do except watch the white world outside or the black and red world inside at the table. Pinochle is a great card game. The card combination of Queen of Spades and Jack of Diamonds is key to play and from where the game gets it’s name. The worth of those two in one hand depends on the scoring system you use. In our home system, a single Pinochle was melded as 4 points and a double Pinochle as 30 points. Thus were we trained that Spades and Diamonds go together.

Then we learned the game of Hearts. The object is to score the least points. Typically a heart card in your hand at the end of a hand of play counted one point against you. The Queen of Spades counted 13 against you; a very, very bad card unless you also took ALL the other Hearts in which case you have “shot the moon” and now give every other player 26 points. “Shooting The Moon” was always a coup. Being the last player below 100 points meant you were the victor. One summer, my workmates and I engaged in a four player Hearts tournament. The first guy to win ten games was the winner. We played at break and at lunch for days on end until it came to this: We had each won 9 games and each, in what had to be the final hand, had 90 points each. We were so evenly matched that it reminds me of a Vulcan mind meld. Whomever was ahead was to be dealt with harshly. We knew who needed to get the queen and just enough hearts to keep the game alive. Now we were at a final reckoning. No longer allies. I will never forget that moment. We were working laying carpet at a school in Cannonball, North Dakota. (Very near the site of the present civil disobedience action regarding the pipeline.) We declared victory for all of us and never played the last hand. It felt wonderful.

I play Whist, Canasta, Cribbage, Rummy and Oh Heck among many other card games but the one game I have yet to learn is Bridge. I would love to learn for one simple reason: I understand that in trying to score the best hand possible one can declare “NOTRUMP”. Let me learn and may the Gods of Luck deal me hands for which I can bid….NO DAMN TRUMP.

What is your favorite suit? Why are Clubs so neglected in card playing?


Today’s post comes from Renee in North Dakota.

North Dakota doesn’t have a native son who became president. I think the only president who ever lived in North Dakota was Teddy Roosevelt.  We have clasped him to our collective bosom, however, and his only presidential library is due to be built about 4 blocks from my house, on the former rodeo grounds at our local college.  The Theodore Roosevelt Center At Dickinson State University website tells us:

“Theodore Roosevelt established two ranches in the badlands of western North Dakota: one called the Maltese Cross seven miles south of the Northern Pacific Railroad (1883) and the other called the Elkhorn, 35 miles north of the village of Medora, North Dakota (1884). Roosevelt never owned a single acre in North Dakota. Like most other ranchers in the badlands, he was a squatter on lands that still belonged to the public domain or the NP Railroad. The Maltese Cross (Chimney Butte) Ranch had already been named by the time he invested in it. He named his second ranch the Elkhorn after he found the horns of two male elk interlocked at the site. The elk had been butting heads in a struggle for primacy when their horns became locked. Unable to extricate themselves, the elk died of starvation. This appealed to Roosevelt, who regarded life as a Darwinian struggle.”

“At the Elkhorn Roosevelt ranched and played cowboy, went on long solo horseback rides, often for many days at a time, and hunted for elk, mule deer, white tail deer, and other quadrupeds. He also grieved for his mother and his first wife Alice, who died together in New York City on Valentine’s Day 1884. In fact, at the Elkhorn TR wrote the only tribute he would ever pen for Alice, who died two days after giving birth to Roosevelt’s first child Alice. He also wrote parts of two of his 35-plus books at the Elkhorn.”

The plan is to rebuild the Elkhorn Ranch house next to the library. For that purpose, large cottonwood logs have been collected from the area, and local ranchers are encouraged to donate logs to rebuild the 60 x 30 foot cabin. A builder from South Dakota has been hired to build the cabin by hand using only tools that were available to Roosevelt’s builders. You can see some of the logs that have already been hauled to the grounds.

It will be quite a job, and I look forward to seeing progress on the cabin when I drive to work each day. The Legislature set aside many millions of dollars to build the library, as long as the TR Center could raise 3 million more. They have a ways to go, but are optimistic that the library and the cabin will both get finished.

If you could design a presidential library for any president, what would you do?

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